“Desperate Art Galleries Give Up As Chelsea Rents Double” Bloomberg reported in February. Postmasters had just announced it would be priced out of its Chelsea home and galleries had begun to express worry that experimentation would stop with the rents so high. At the time, the gallery’s rent rose to $30,000/month, and its move, signaled the beginning of that neighborhood’s exodus: one more nail in Manhattan’s coffin as a viable place to live.
But on a warm July evening on Monday, all of that was light years behind us. Yet again, we packed into a new gallery, in a new district, with all the optimism of a fresh start.
I mean that sincerely. Coming to Tribeca’s 54 Franklin Street (until now, marked only by “54” scribbled on a piece of paper) we came up on what looked like a VIP-style clipboard line; instead, it turned out to be release waivers, in case anybody hurt themselves in the yet-unrenovated gallery. Already a good sign.
In fact, inside, the unlit cavern offers more space than ever, stretching out in lines of plaster columns far down to exposed brick walls. And the combination of crumbly Old World deco– punctuated by Natalie Jeremijenko’s light-up cotton candy wands– felt like exactly the right setting for the digital community’s new rise. (Postmasters handles all mediums, but is particularly friendly with the mechanically inclined.)
And true to form, Jerimijenko’s cotton candy station doubled as an ecological demonstration, as part of her part of her Cross(x) Species Adventure Club. After taking a bite of what tasted like plain sugar flavor, she grabbed me, saying, “You can’t eat it like that!” The project promotes biodiversity throughout your digestive system, she explained, sprinkling some bee pollen, fiber-rich seeds (I think lavender), and garnished with a pansy. There was a fairy quality about the flower, on top of a little poof of white cotton candy, lit from inside by a color-changing LED.
Farther into the darkness, a huge crowd had descended on the banquet-sized cheese and wine tables. As I found from a few casual conversations, several of those lurking around the bread section were neither Postmasters artists or patrons, but just fans of the gallery. “It was sad to hear about what happened with the old space, and they’re a cool gallery, so it was great to hear that they’re reopening,” one grad school-aged man told me.
And then there was Serkan Ozkaya’s “Mirage”: an enormous shadow of an airplane, sliding every few minutes, slowly over the crowd and up the walls. It sounds anticlimactic, but sightings became like shooting stars, with people pointing “Look! We almost missed it!”
With so many uprisings and quasi-rebellions and new gallery sub-districts, airs of change are about as common as the wind these days in the art world. It seems silly to hedge any predictions. For that moment though, everything felt like it was gonna be just fine.