Galleries continue to migrate across New York, although with less of a set pattern than birds. Pocket Utopia, one of just a few Bushwick galleries to hop over the East River and land in Manhattan, is now even further westward bound; it’s moving to Chelsea as part of a merger with Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden, located at West 22nd street. Yesterday I spoke with Pocket Utopia’s founder Austin Thomas; already, she was working from Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden’s offices with gallery directors Jason Vartikar and Sarah Christian. She confirmed that Pocket Utopia’s Henry street location will close in April at the end of the gallery’s current exhibition, Summer Wheat’s Everything Under the Sun: Moon and Stars.
“The short statement is instead of having two small galleries we’re going to have a bigger one, and we’re going to have three directors,” Thomas said, referring to Vartikar and Christian. All three are artists, and she sees that as integral to the type of gallery she wants to continue to run. “I use the term galler-artist,” she added, and mentioned that with the merger both galleries will keep all the artists on their respective rosters.
And yes, Thomas acknowledged, it is a bit of a rarity for a gallery with such humble beginnings to move to Chelsea. “I wanted to bring Bushwick to the Lower East Side and now I’m doing reverse gentrification,” Thomas joked. “I don’t think art is predicated on where you live.”
Currently, Austin Thomas has a solo exhibition of her work, Utopian, at Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden’s gallery space.