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Art Dealers Continue to Flee Chelsea for the Lower East Side

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Mesler/Feuer Gallery, 30 Orchard St.
Mesler/Feuer Gallery, 30 Orchard St. Image from gallery’s tumblr page.

The Lower East Side figures prominently in a Bloomberg piece today about the flight of art galleries from Chelsea. It’s a familiar story, of course. Art dealers priced out of the West Side gallery district have been coming to the LES in search of cheaper rent for several years. But the migration appears to be accelerating. Here’s are excerpts:

“It’s time to move to a new area and be part of a new story,” said Michael Gillespie, owner of Foxy Production, one of the two galleries. “Chelsea feels more blue-chip and less an area where you come to discover new artists.” … CRG Gallery and Zach Feuer recently left Chelsea after 15 years because their latest home had been sold. CRG will open on Chrystie Street on Sept. 9 with a solo show by multi-media Brazilian artist Alexandre Da Cunha. Feuer partnered with downtown dealer Joel Mesler and opened a second-floor space on the corner of Orchard and Grand streets. “If you are an emerging contemporary art gallery, the Lower East Side is the place to be,” said New York collector Peter Hort. “I go to Chelsea to see shows and support friends. I buy art downtown.” … Downtown credentials also appeal to some blue-chip Chelsea galleries. Marianne Boesky runs Boesky East on Clinton Street. James Cohan Gallery, which has a 6,000-square-foot space in Chelsea, will open a 2,900-square-foot gallery on Grand Street in October. “No one wants to become a dinosaur,” said James Cohan. “We thought there is fresh energy on the Lower East Side.”

According to the article, the Lower East Side is slightly more affordable than Chelsea. Rents top out at around $125/sq. ft. here as opposed to $150/sq. ft. in Chelsea. The LES BID estimates there over 120 galleries in the neighborhood today.

In Chelsea, of course, residential real estate development has pushed galleries out. That’s already happened in a few isolated cases on the LES. The big question? How long until it starts occurring on a bigger scale.

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