What do a bunch of struggling young artists do when they can’t afford to rent exhibit space?
They do what they do best. They get creative.
In the case of the Secret Dungeon, an artist collaborative located in the East Williamsburg industrial business zone, that means leasing a 166-square-foot storage unit inside an old garage and converting it into a micro-gallery with everything from livestream poetry to painting and sculpture. Currently on display is a solo show Alone Walker by fine-art photographer Jackie Furtado until Dec. 10.
Secret Dungeon is the brainchild of 11 artists whose mission, according to member and photographer Greg Gentert, is to present “exceptional programming in an unexceptional space.”
While the space itself may be unexceptional, the trip to get there certainly is. Cardboard arrows and flyers posted in the neighborhood invite passersby to call a cell phone to gain access.
Once connected with a member on the phone, you’ll typically be directed to the corner of Moore and White Street where you will be met and escorted into a bleak-looking garage reminiscent of “Silence Of The Lambs.” Once inside, there’s not much to look at except for a few motorcycles and a vintage Cadillac that’s seen better days, covered in dust, grime, and filled with old boxes of papers.
From the outside, storage unit 48 looks just as unassuming as the rest of them except for two tiny words on the black steel door. According to member Katie Ward, “the gallery got its name because Secret Dungeon was written in sharpie on the door of the space before they signed the lease.” The members agreed to keep the name.
Once the storage unit door opens, the dust and dirt are quickly forgotten and replaced with immaculate white gallery walls and sophisticated hanging light fixtures. The transition from storage unit to gallery is the result of the members’ combined talents. They built out the gallery walls, painted them, hung the lighting and even installed a screen for new media exhibits.
As a general rule, members do not show their own work at the Secret Dungeon; but they do propose all programming and exhibitions, which are then decided by a vote.
Whoever proposes an idea for an exhibition typically becomes the main contact for the show and works with the artist to curate it. All other responsibilities are divvied up and everyone takes turns manning the gallery, which is open every Saturday from 12 – 6 p.m. and by appointment.