More Proof LES Gallery Scene is Thriving

art boom title

Montage by Kim Sillen Gledhill.

Editor’s note: This story was first published in the May 2013 edition of The Lo-Down’s print magazine.

When Risa Needleman and Benjamin Tischer opened Invisible Exports, their sliver of a gallery at 14 Orchard St. in 2008, they joined a handful of independent-minded dealers fleeing the sterility of Chelsea for a new art frontier on the Lower East Side. Five years later, having firmly established a reputation for cutting-edge–and often provocative–shows, they are preparing to move on from a street bursting with galleries; there are six of them in a one-block stretch above Canal Street. But these young dealers are not abandoning the LES; they’re negotiating for a larger space in a neighborhood that Needleman calls a “new force to be reckoned with in the art world.”

This month, the highly regarded New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) stages the sophomore edition of its New York art fair in the neighborhood, at Basketball City on Pier 36. At the same time, a French fair called Cutlog makes its American debut on the Lower East Side. And the New Museum, which helped set off the art stampede with its arrival on the Bowery in 2007, hosts Ideas City, a three-day conference and festival focused on urban issues.