For better or (far more often) for worse, Bushwick is one of those neighborhoods where reasons for nostalgia about the good days long gone arise quite literally daily.
The closure of one of the most distinctive art galleries in Bushwick, Outlet Fine Art, has certainly made us nostalgic for the years when you could count Bushwick galleries on fingers of two hands, everybody knew each other, and everybody was able to go to every art show.
Outlet Fine Art, which is located at 253 Wilson Ave., announced its final demise after nearly five years in the neighborhood during a December 9 closing reception.
“There has been a downturn across the board in the art market, which is making it difficult for many spaces to survive,” Julian Jimarez Howard, one of the directors and owners of Outlet told Bushwick Daily. “That being said, not many spaces are sustainable on their own. But the [Bushwick art] scene has also grown and changed. It’s not so close-knit anymore, and people’s ambitions have grown,” he said.
Directors and co-owners Jimarez Howard, Jason Andrew and John Silvis were responsible for a diverse array of shows that often featured minorities and underrepresented media—and the three are parting ways.
“No bad blood or anything, [we are] just moving on,” Jimarez Howard explained. “Jason just picked up a new estate to represent, and since moving Norte Maar to Cypress Hills, it’s difficult for him to remain committed to OUTLET. John and I decided to close up shop to focus on our own projects as well. Many of our collectors are not in New York anymore, so it doesn’t make much sense for us to maintain the space in that regard. ”
Jimarez Howard also cited an ongoing dispute with ConEdison regarding their exorbitant bills as one of the factors that precipitated their decision to close.
“We fought with [ConEd] on a pretty much monthly basis as we were getting bills to the tune of $500 or higher. This is for a space that’s open basically 3 days a week and runs on fluorescent lights,” Jimarez Howard explains.
In July of 2012, Jimarez Howard, a man with a wide smile and welcoming attitude, opened a gallery with the intriguing name Sunset Surf Club on the stretch of Wilson Avenue just past Myrtle Avenue.
The space was located next to a barbershop, in the vicinity of a tire store, and across the street from a 99-cent store, which later became a gallery as well. (99¢ Plus Gallery closed a couple of months ago, as well.)
Governed by an ephemeral, and perhaps slightly utopian, vision, the Outlet space, in itself a piece of conceptual art, was going to change its name every season: It was summer, thus it was called Sunset Surf Club.
I have to admit that immediately after hearing about this name-changing plan, I got a mild headache. Just imagining the hustle of changing the domain of the website and social media accounts, not to mention the constantly confused press and visitors, was too much.
But I felt also a little ashamed of my own pragmatism, because after all, wasn’t this concept also a beautifully pure commitment to the notion that art is all that matters, while the approval of others, including press and collectors, was secondary?
When the fall arrived, Jimarez Howard changed the name of the space to Outlet Fine Art, which ended up being the only name change that the gallery underwent.
The idealistic gallerist found a partner, the young curator Aliza Kelly Faragher, who brought more pragmatism to the project while remaining true to the great artistic vision.
That is when Outlet Fine Art fully arrived on the scene, with a plethora of excellent art shows presenting phenomenal artists, including Cecilia Espinosa, Matthew Hillock, Enrico Miguel Thomas and Jilly Ballistic.
In 2013, Faragher has moved to the West Coast, leaving Outlet facing an uncertain future of rising rents and the changing landscape of the Bushwick art scene.
Luckily, that November, Jimarez Howard’s project was joined by two local heavy-hitters—curator Jason Andrew of Norte Maar, and artist/curator John Silvis.
The three began another ambitious era at Outlet Fine Art, bringing truly excellent art to the section of Bushwick south of Myrtle Avenue, including Hermine Ford, Brece Honeycutt, Genesis Belanger, Zebadiah Keneally, and even Arshile Gorky.
Outlet Fine Art, you will be missed!
Cover photo: Julian Jimarez Howard in front of Sunset Surf Club in 2012. Photo by Katarina Hybenova for Bushwick Daily.