After 16 years of operation, the Chelsea-based gallery Mixed Greens will close its doors when its lease runs out at the end of the year. The gallery, which was founded by philanthropist and collector Paige West in 1999, had an unusual beginning: it first launched as a website dedicated to promoting the work of emerging artists. In 2005, after much success online, it opened a physical space at the request of the many artists they promoted.
The gallery has a special place in the hearts of those at AFC. Paige was part of the early blogging community we, too, were a part of, and she blogged enthusiastically about emerging art (she was talking about Alex Da Corte in 2008), overheard conversations at fairs (which were sometimes horrific), and, of course, collecting (she wrote a book on the topic). Then, when Mixed Greens opened its physical space, it launched its own blog, The Pit, which is run by the staff and for a time linked frequently to other publications, including our own. It was here, that the gallery made their announcement of closing. (My favorite posts revealed their obsession with sharks. I approve.)
In her subsequent mailer, forwarded to me by the gallery staff, Paige explains that the reasons for closing are good ones. She believes it’s time for change and wants to focus on new art projects. The staff seemed both excited and sad about the closure when I talked to them—I was told they all get along really well so the team will be missed.
I know I’m supposed be excited for the new opportunities that await this group, but this feels like a major bummer to me. Mixed Greens was one of the few galleries in Chelsea that made a genuine effort to be approachable and friendly when they opened; while that may not seem like a big deal, in 2005 it was a major breakthrough. At the time, art world participants were near suffocated by impenetrable and intimidating academic prose in press releases and art writing and that that affected how people talked about art—and whether they did at all. The gallery staff made everyone feel comfortable, no matter who you were or how much you’d read.
This made a huge difference to me, particularly in my early days as a blogger, when I knew very little about the scene. They were easy to talk to, which thus made talking to other professionals seem less intimidating. [Update: They also were one of the few Chelsea galleries that held an open call.]
In my books, a gallery like this deserves the finest of farewells, so this is my pledge to the staff: I will visit each exhibition until the end of the year. First up: Common Threads, a show of artists who make work inspired by textile, but don’t actually use it. I’ll let you know my thoughts shortly.