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Lower East Side Art Gallery Roundup: In Search of Alternative Energy

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Your Vacuum Blows, which Sucks; Miguel Abreu Gallery, 2015.
Artist: Pieter Schoolwerth; Your Vacuum Blows, which Sucks; Miguel Abreu Gallery, 2015.

The New York Times is out with its annual survey of the city’s art gallery scene. Holland Carter picks 10 galleries on the Lower East Side showing especially interesting work at the moment and sums up the state of visual art in the neighborhood:

A decade or so ago, when art dealers started to set up shop below East Houston Street, a vague hope beat in the hearts of some observers that the neighborhood might be an alternative, in art and attitude alike, to Chelsea. I doubt anyone harbors that hope today. Mostly, the Lower East Side gallery scene is Chelsea with more storefronts and cheaper retail. Still, it has a certain margin of flexibility, and sometimes it uses it.

Making the cut: Whitebox Art Center, Y Gallery, Kerry Schuss Gallery, Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, Lesley Heller Workspace, Miguel Abreu Gallery, Canada Gallery, James Fuentes, ABC No Rio and Cuchifritos in the Essex Street Market.

Also this week, the Observer took a look at the blossoming art scene in that “blurry divide between Manhattan’s Lower East Side and predominately Chinese sections of East Broadway, Canal Street and Eldridge Street.”  Among those interviewed, Allegra LaViola and Meredith Rosen of Sargent’s Daughters on East Broadway.


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  1. How many of the artists in the galleries actually live in the neighborhood? Cotter doesn’t sum up the state of visual art in the neighborhood. He sums up the state of the art that has been brought to the neighborhood to vend, by retail outlets that are in the neighborhood to take advantage (slight) of the lower rent overhead. The idea the art in the galleries somehow represents the neighborhood is erroneous. And in the current retail art market the main motivation for creating art is economic. So of course you aren’t going to see much work that deviates from a conservative, highly commercial and decorative profile. More and more you aren’t looking at aesthetically challenging work but instead simple, high-priced home and office decorations.

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