Paradice Palase

Vanessa Hock

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“What could be this idyllic, perfect art world where artists have full transparency, see an equity, and get paid for their labor in a really fair way?” asked Lauren Hirshfield and Kat Ryals when they started their Bushwick-based art platform Paradice Palase.

“What a beautiful Paradice that would be.”

Hirshfield, an art curator, and Ryals, an interdisciplinary artist with a focus on photography and lenticular prints, met in 2016 and connected over a discussion about the lack of opportunities for artists in the early stages of their careers. The duo conceptualized Paradice Palase, an art startup aimed at new artists trying to create a sustainable career in the highly competitive art market.

“You go in through art school and no one cares about the business of being an artist. There’s so much that we get thrown into when you come out of school that we were never told.” Hirshfield told Bushwick Daily.

In April 2017, the success of a month-long Kickstarter campaign gave Paradice Palase enough funding to launch an inaugural show in Ryals’ Bushwick apartment. In September 2019, Paradice Palase opened up a storefront gallery with a members-only artist workshop space, Oasis Studios, located at 1260 Broadway. It has since evolved into a national platform built around multidisciplinary and intersectional artists, curators, writers, and art professionals.

Above, Gabrielle Mertz’s “The Sky Overhead From Home In The New Year” (2021). Below, Paul Anagnostopoulos’ “Don’t Have The Time For Another Lie” (2019). At $495 and $800, respectively, the two part of Paradice Palase’s “Art Under 800” collection.

To lower the barrier of entry into the art markets, Paradice Palase markets a three-tiered membership plan that’s priced at $5, $10, and $15, per month. The plans include different levels of visibility and access to an expansive network of art professionals, promotions through virtual interviews, partnership discounts, and featured exhibits. All members, regardless of tier, receive monthly newsletters with exclusive open calls and exhibit submissions.

Visitors and patrons can expect a collection that varies from painting, photography, abstract process sculptures to figurative works. Some notable artists include mixed media and painter John Felix Arnold, installation and sound artist Dan Criblez, fine artist Angela Miskis, and painter Maria Stabio.

Though Paradice Palase has been able to host exhibits and residencies during the pandemic, its business is now primarily online with a digital marketplace, virtual artist talks, and exhibit tours.

“Wearable art” by Paul Anagnostopoulos. ($55.95)

Lately, Paradice Palase has encouraged their members to make lower priced works, as a means to increase sales volume during ongoing pandemic, such as a shirt collection created in collaboration with artists. The apparel collection, which can be purchased on the Paradice Palase website, creates limited edition t-shirts which showcase artworks and designs by artists, which Hirshfield refers to as “wearable art.”

Earlier this year, they launched an “Art Under 800” collection that focuses on selling art for $800 or less, an effort, they say, to broaden the financial demographic of art buyers. Hirshfield and Ryals say they are aware newcomers are hesitant to purchase artwork due to unregulated appraisals and a lack of transparency of art value.

Stained-glass and light artist Valeria Divinorum says of Paradice Palase encouraged her to create small scale versions of her work which widened the collector’s accessibility to purchase her work.

“It really helped me, having an income through my art practice. It has been one of the most important doors for me as an artist,” Divinorum says. “Being part of this community always brings me opportunities.”

For artists who don’t want to buy a membership, Paradice Palase also hosts annual open calls that accept mediums of painting, photography, fiber art, video, sound, sculpture, and mixed media. They are currently holding their 4th open call with the theme of “Dreaming” which runs until April 4, 2021. Viewers can expect to see works that challenge perceptions of reality and idealized alternatives that center on conversations about perceptions of reality.

Hirshfield says they were “very utopic” about their vision when they chose the name Paradice Palase and the suitably titled member workspace, Oasis Studios. Their goal to democratize the arts challenged them to find a way to support underrepresented while also building collectorship across a wide range of income levels.

“Paradice Palase works as a connector between artist and artist, between artist and professional opportunities, and between artwork and collector,” says Hirshfield.

Paradice Palase’s main gallery is located at 1260 Broadway.

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