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RePopRoom 1 Art and Photography Galleries Art Gallery District Chelsea

Once upon a time, not too long ago, Suzanne Kennedy and Megan Mallow were young stars of the start-up world. They helped to bring together budding new companies in a cooperative environment in order both to nurture these businesses through their early phases and to foster dialogue between them. The thought was that this approach would stimulate creativity and collaboration. A rising tide would thus lift all boats.

After a few years of lifting all these boats, though, Suzanne and Megan decided that they wanted to do something more creative, “closer to [their] hearts.” They quit, thinking about what to do next, and six weeks later had signed the lease for what is now RePopRoom (an amalgamation of Retail, Pop-up shops, and showrooms). It is easy to walk in and get the idea that this is simply a gallery, but chat with the owners and you learn that it is, instead, the co-working equivalent of a gallery. Instead of commissioning artists and siphoning payment from pieces sold, they rent wall space to creative companies and individuals hoping to showcase their carefully curated pieces. This process juxtaposes the art of different folks, which both brings out certain elements of works by placing them in unfamiliar contexts and produces a community for the artists involved. The ladies are thus hoping to create collaborative “next projects.”

The fingerprints of the start-up world are everywhere here - collaboration, openness to new ideas, fluency of design, emphasis on creativity. Megan explained that they are “trying to create a Google-like environment on a budget.” The less fixed model for meting out wall space means for a more accessible platform to help artists get their work in the spotlight. Besides the exhibitions, the RePopRoom hosts openings and meet-ups to further build community bonds. Megan told us that they are “kind of trying to disrupt that gallery scene.” The project is perhaps the rare win-win-win for everyone involved, from the artists to the customers to the Room itself.

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RePopRoom 1 Art and Photography Galleries Art Gallery District Chelsea
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More Art and Photography Galleries nearby

Lost Gem
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C24 Gallery

While 24th Street contains several world-renowned galleries, C24 is a less recognizable, but no less amazing art gallery. It was opened in September of 2011 by four partners: Emre and Maide Kurttepeli, Mel Dogan, and Ali Soyak. Though none were working directly in the art industry, all were united by a passion for art. “They thought, ‘Where’s the best place to open a gallery? New York! ” explained Michelle Maigret, the director. “’Where’s the best place in New York? Chelsea! Where’s the best street in Chelsea? 24th Street! ” In 2015, C24’s building was purchased, so the owners found a new space down the block. This time, however, C24 will not be pushed out. In keeping with a block norm, C24 is the owner of its building, and with the new location came a new vision. “I think we have more of a direction now, ” Michelle said. “When we moved out of our old space, we went through the artists and moved out the ones who weren’t going with the direction the directors wanted to take. ” It was not just a move, as Meghan Schaetzle, the gallery manager, clarified, but “a rebirth of the gallery. ” The new C24 is more spacious than most of the surrounding galleries. There is an atrium as well as a large main room, featuring windows and glass doors, to create a naturally lit and generally welcoming environment. “Often, artists get restricted by gallery space, ” explained Amanda Uribe, director of sales. “But here, they’re inspired by the possibilities. ” The unique space allows C24 to step outside of what one might typically see on 24th Street - exhibiting all media, from miniature sculptures to monumental paintings to video art - and, recently, they have been moving towards multimedia or, as Michelle put it, “different media” displays. Rather than follow in the footsteps of more established galleries and try to feature the “big hits, ” C24 aims to represent contemporary, mid-career artists who are pushing the boundaries of their craft. As Michelle told me, “The big name artists are great and it’s always good to see their shows, but we have something different, fun, and interactive - and people always respond to it. There’s a different attitude, different feel, something fresh here. ” In keeping with that theme, C24’s curation attempts to push boundaries with an international focus and is proud to feature a geographically diverse roster of artists. Additionally, C24 brings in an outside curator each year to organize a show in their space. When it comes to the art world, keep an eye on C24: For the young gallery, things are only looking up. “We’ve been applying to some of the more prestigious art fairs and getting wait-listed, rather than flat-out rejected, ” Michelle said. “We’re about to hit it. ” Meghan concurred: “Stay tuned and see how we grow! ”

More places on 29th Street

Lost Gem
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American Bartender's School

Approaching almost fifty years, the American Bartender's School, owned by Joseph Bruno, has been teaching mixologists the ‘ology of mixing. Having moved in the ‘80s from their original location on Madison Avenue, the school offers forty-hour courses, with students leaving as certified bartenders with a license issued by the New York State Board of Education. Joseph contends that a bartender’s success is determined by conversation, “no matter how good the drink is. ” That being said, technical skill is far from lacking at this institution. Combining lectures and a “lab” portion, we witnessed students attentively toiling over drinks for phantom customers in a room designed to look like one giant bar. The difference, however, is that unlike a culinary school where one might sample their own creations, students do not imbibe here. In fact, there is no alcohol to be found at this bar. Everything is in the correct bottles and the colors all match their potent potable equivalent. What was explained to us is that everything is about measurements. Students are given a recipe to follow, and provided they do it correctly, they can rest assured that it will taste exactly right in the real world. After decades of experience bartending in and managing drinking establishments, Joseph has seen a new devotion to the craft of mixology. Up-and-coming bartenders have tested innovative flavors, homemade syrups, and the “farm-to-table” use of fresh ingredients. He has taken particular pleasure in the resurgence of drinks not popular since the Prohibition era. Perhaps it is a sign that we still have a chance to relive some of the best aspects of the Roaring Twenties.