Galleries have opened and closed on New York for quite some time, but for the last four years, the neighborhood once home to tenement housing has developed an intense gallery scene that keeps thriving. The Lower East Side, roughly the area bound to the north by Houston Street, to the west by the Bowery, to the south by Canal Street, and to the east by the East River, has become an alternative for young galleries seeking a space in Manhattan, but that are not willing to move into the overcrowded and overpriced Chelsea neighborhood.
During my last trip to New York, coinciding with the first couple of weeks of openings after a long August break, I ventured down to the Lower East Side to take a look at some of these galleries.
On the street bearing the gallery’s name, Renwick Gallery presented Talia Chetrit’s debut solo show titled Readings. Founded on 2006, the gallery’s roster of artists include José Dávila, Meredith Danluck and George Kontos. For Chetrit’s show, the gallery presented a series of photographs that lie between the experimental and the abstract, where the artist mostly plays with light and explores the medium of photography. In their apparent simplicity, Chetrit’s work is complex and flawlessly executed. The digital renderings of the photographs, like the one displayed above, cannot even begin to describe how technically good the artist really is.
Moving on to Orchard Street, Invisible Exports presented Genesis Breyer P-Orridge: 30 Years of Being Cut Up, a retrospective of the artists’ collage work. In this exhibition you can see, Genesis P-Orridge’s Mail Art, for which he was charged by the British general post office for sending “offensive material” by mail. These were done before he teamed up with performance artist and partner Lady Jaye Breyer. The show’s title not only refers to the collage work the artist is known for, but also to the couple’s ongoing physical transformation with plastic surgery in an attempt to eliminate differences between them; a process that leads to what they call pandrogeny, a unified male and female body. Presenting images of before and after surgery, Two into one we go documents the couples effort to become one by way of altering their bodies under the knife.
Another gallery on Orchard, Rachel Uffner presented a new series of portraits by Sara Greenberger Rafferty titled Tears. Just recently opened last year, the gallery represents artists such as Josh Blackwell and Roger White. The series consists of manually and digitally intervened photographs printed in CMYK ink on a desktop printer. In this her most recent work, Rafferty continues to explore ideas tied to performance, comedy and popular culture through portraits of comedians, such as Bill Cosby and Vicki Lawrence, and comedic props, such as a whopee cushion and a rubber chicken. The photographs resemble television stills of the 1970’s that have been damaged with an ‘accidental’ spill.
images provided by Renwick Gallery, Invisible Exports & Rachel Uffner