Best of Summer: Art Gallery

I’m going to cheat a little. This one is a three-way tie.

I’m calling NURTUREart, Small Black Door, and Weeknights the best galleries of the summer. Each gallery did something that was so simple, it was obvious why no one else was doing it. They essentially gave away art and access to art without an agenda.

First, NURTUREart director Marco Antonini took a risk when the curatorial project entitled Is This Free…? began its summer long run. It was almost like a children’s museum in which you can touch and interact with the exhibitions, yet showed genuinely historical pieces of art or propaganda – depending on the tone in which you read some of the pieces. For example, a Jenny Holzer flyer from the ’70s, similar in spirit to what you might receive from an occupy rally today, is encased now in glass. On the opposing side, a fingerprinted reproduction of The Diggers 1960’s piece Money Is The Root of All Evil was available for the taking.

In addition to Is This Free…? the gallery ran a classroom series called Lawn School in various locations from July 5th – August 30th culminating at Tompkins Square Park.

The second gallery I’m calling best of the summer is Small Black Door. This may seem odd, since they missed Bushwick Open Studios and were able to host only one show over the summer. But it was another show that encouraged accessibility and openness to art.

Small Black Door held a show in July entitled Bring Yourself in which they asked participants to bring a piece of art – a piece of themselves – and they would receive a raffle ticket. Between the hours of 5-9pm the walls filled with 62 works and Polaroids of those who brought themselves hung on the opposite side. A potluck and music sets by jojoSoul filled those four hours until at 9pm. The work was raffled off and everyone who contributed went home with something.

Finally we come to the studio/gallery space run by our own Jen Hitchens: Weeknights.

The inaugural show Friends of Friends featured works by friends. Of friends. It included pieces by Nick Greenwald, Theresa Daddezio, and Julian Lorber along with 19 others. The prices ranged from $1.75 – $875. While the general run of this exhibition can’t be honestly cast among the mould breaking kind chosen above, this article is about the galleries behind them.

Following the exhibition’s closing party, a post was made in the Facebook event page telling those who “attended” that they could enter a raffle to win one of the pieces in the show, a geometric piece by Ricardo Paniagua. To enter the raffle, one simply messaged Weeknights with a number between one and one hundred and the piece would be shipped to the winner.

I talked to Jen about this raffle, stating that I entered with the number 42. She said the raffle was something she wanted to continue doing following Weeknight’s shows. A personal connection between the gallery, the artists, and the new owner of a piece could be made with this little bout of fun. It doesn’t hurt that Jen is a good curator.

Thanks to the galleries for changing the game this summer.

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