Space Jam

The Art World's New Alternatives

With annual budgets ranging from $100,000 to $600,000, are these new art venues something we really need? "Right now, New York is in an exhibitional crisis," says Sandra Antelo of Trans>, who is concerned about the growing list of jobless curators and canceled shows in post-9-11 New York. She is also annoyed that most exhibitions offer only a snapshot of contemporary art, failing to provide a historic or theoretical context, a situation she is trying to remedy through her recent exhibition of Artur Barrio, an under-recognized Brazilian artist, whose projects have influenced the work of Gabriel Orozco, Francis Alÿs, and Felix Gonzales-Torres.

As if to prove Antelo's point, Dorsky Gallery was founded last October by art dealers Noah, Karen, and David Dorsky as a nonprofit venture for independent curators interested in historically based contemporary art projects. Offering 4800 square feet of space, as well as underwriting all exhibition costs and fees, the gallery has already staged several significant shows, notably "Hans Bellmer and Surrealist Strategies in Contemporary Art," curated by Marcello Marvelli and Helaine Posner (David's wife). "If you are trying to do some kind of historicized project, you either have to wade through the bureaucracy of places like P.S.1 or you go to David, who says, 'Let's do it,' " says Saul Ostrow, curator of Dorsky's current exhibition, "Prescient Then and Now: The Resonance of Support/Surface" (11-03 45th Avenue, through July 3). "It's not a full-blown museum exhibition, but it is enough to know if the idea is right, to attract museum support later on."

Even more entrepreneurial is Triple Candie, a 5000-square-foot exhibition space founded by Shelly Bancroft in February on the ground floor of a former brewery on West 126th Street. Organizations must apply to produce shows at Triple Candie, which then offers a range of services—marketing, public relations, educational programs, and staff—for a fee generally between $3000 and $6000. Still, in a city where there is no shortage of curators and artists looking for venues, Bancroft has picked attention-worthy projects: "Rumors of War," curated by Franklin Sirmans and underwritten by the Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation (where Bancroft's husband, Peter Nesbett, serves as director), followed by a Kiki Smith exhibition, sponsored by PaceWildenstein. "I did not want to follow in the footsteps of White Columns or Artists Space," she explains. "I wanted to be a presenting, rather than a producing, organization, so the space becomes a collection of other people's visions, not my own." However, as foundation support begins to trickle in, Bancroft will also be undertaking in-house curatorial projects, such as her current show, "Hotel/Motel," featuring works by 11 Harlem artists (461 West 126th Street, through June 30).

Watch this space: Lia Gangitano at her Participant Inc. site on Rivington Street.
photo: Robin Holland
Watch this space: Lia Gangitano at her Participant Inc. site on Rivington Street.

Which of these various models will succeed remains to be seen, but all of these spaces have already put themselves on the map with exciting shows that highlight artists and ideas overlooked by other venues. "Mac Wellman once said that every generation must create its own venues, its own critics, its own forms of support," says Counts. "When I was starting out, I bristled at that idea, but now, I really agree."

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