I met JoAnne Artman shortly after she moved into her New York gallery. No stranger to the art world, JoAnne has been showing the work of culturally diverse, well-known artists in her Laguna Beach, California gallery since 2007. She claims that she has always been artsy – she loved painting in elementary school, drawing cartoon strips in middle school, and then eventually found photography, which she has been practicing for all of her adult life. Over the thirty years that she was living out west, she would often put on private art shows in her home. As she so eloquently says, “Art is an investment in your soul.”
After her California gallery had been open for a few years, JoAnne reached the point where she was looking for a second location. At first she searched in her own state, but when she could not find exactly what she was looking for, she thought, “Dream big – I’ve got to try!” She chose Chelsea, the world-renowned gallery district. A large number of her collectors were from New York and she had always been told that her gallery had a “New York collection,” so it seemed like a logical move. JoAnne thought she would never find anything in this neighborhood and that it was crazy to try, but happily she found her current space inside an 1893 manufacturing building. She had to fight for it in the cutthroat world of New York real estate, but was overjoyed when it ended up in her hands. “This is a jewel of a location,” she told me. “It even reminds me of my gallery in Laguna.” Even though the California gallery is three times the size, the two have a similar staircase and layout. “It feels like home – we’re so comfortable in this space.”
JoAnne decided to “start big” and open in 2015 with her most successful artist, the Columbian-American painter and sculptor America Martin. I learned that JoAnne represents seventeen to eighteen artists (“It would be overwhelming to have more!”) and that they are all ages and ethnicities. As an example, she listed Marjorie Strider, who had just passed away at the age of eighty-three. She was a female pop artist who had been a contemporary of Warhol, and JoAnne had shown a lot of her work in California. “I only show artists that I love, collect, and have a passion for,” She said, adding, “I love color.” Her fondness for bright hues can be seen all over the gallery, from the bright yellow water pipes running along the ceiling to the sunflower-colored back wall. “I wanted to bring California sunshine to New York,” JoAnne stated. She pointed out the graffiti on the air conditioning unit that she had asked one of the gallery installers to do after learning that he was a renegade graffiti artist. The bright, bubbly “J” was a surprise, situated so high up on the wall. “I like to do things that are unexpected,” JoAnne admitted.
I returned to the gallery with Tom, our photographer, when a show was opening by the artist Suzanne Heintz. The exhibit was the culmination of a fifteen year body of work in which Suzanne traveled the world with her “daughter” and “husband,” two mannequins. The “daughter” stood as part of the exhibit, staring out the window at passersby. I had the opportunity to speak to Suzanne, who was like a piece of art, herself, perfectly coifed and sporting a bright red dress. We spoke about how her project redefines the idea of identity and the strange looks she would get on the street, dragging around her well-dressed dolls. She told me about the consistent energy behind the project, saying “I was raised as an endurance runner. Now I’m an endurance artist.” We talked about how her photos and accompanying documentary included many forms of shorthand for how we define success and romance, but that “romance can occur in your life without a label.” I then asked her what she thought of the relationship she had formed with JoAnne, to which she replied, “It’s a perfect fit.” JoAnne and Suzanne then finished each other’s sentences, sharing how they knew they were meant to work together before they even met face to face. When JoAnne mentioned her bright yellow wall on the phone, Suzanne could not believe it. “I’m shooting sunflowers!” she said, referring to her photographs of her "family" frolicking through a field of flowers. Sure enough, the picture hung on the yellow wall above the yellow coach. “I also love that a woman is representing me,” Suzanne added. Seeing JoAnne smiling as Suzanne described her work, I was reminded of something she had said in our earlier interview: “As much as we love the artists’ work, we love them.”
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! ”
There are two floors to the David Zwirner Gallery on 20th Street, often showcasing different artists. When I visited in May of 2015, downstairs showcased an installation by Richard Serra with large, three-dimensional black blocks of forged weatherproof steel, highly distinguished against the blank white walls. In contrast, upstairs were some two-dimensional, colourful paintings and sketches selected from the Kramarsky Collection. I was particularly drawn to a series of incomplete circles sketched by Robert Mangold.
This Swedish Lutheran church is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2015. The church, organized by two missionaries, was named for Gustavus II Adolphus, who was King of Sweden from 1611-1632. Though the church opened in 1865, it was not until the early 1900s that English services began on a regular basis and electricity was installed in the building. The membership fluctuated over the years that followed, as the church introduced attractions such as the Sewing Club, Help Our Neighbors Eat Year-Round, and the Basement Coffeehouse Program for college students and young adults. In 1961, the church had the honor of hosting a memorial service for the Secretary General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld. In celebration of this milestone anniversary, Gustavus Adolphus is renovating its interior, and replacing the chandeliers and stained glass windows in preparation for a festival in the fall of 2015.
“We come together on the common ground of arts, letters, and women owning their own destinies, ” stated Executive Director Dawn Delikat. For well over a century, Pen and Brush has been dedicated to supporting women in the visual arts and literature. The organization was founded by two sisters and painters, Janet and Mimi Lewis, who were frustrated with being barred from art societies solely on the basis of their gender. Knowing of so many talented women suffering a similar fate, the siblings decided to create Pen and Brush to “stop asking for permission and forge their own way in the city. ”Though the group was nomadic for thirty years, it was able to purchase its first location in 1923. Decades later in the early 1960s, the ladies celebrated paying off their mortgage by dressing in their finest ballgowns and burning the contract in the fireplace. “Women persevering is as much of our understory as anything else. ” The organization carries the torch passed down by these remarkable women, whose members include First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and a number of Nobel laureates. Today, Pen and Brush’s goal remains the same, albeit adapted to twenty-first-century circumstances. As such, it makes space for both women and non-binary voices — better reflecting our evolving conceptions of the gender spectrum — and works to bring in the diversity that has been kept out of the canon “not for lack of talent, but for lack of access. ” To this end, Pen and Brush functions as an art gallery and a book publisher, where visual artists and writers from across the world can submit their work. The group evaluates submissions, seeking pieces “that need to be supported, ” either for expressing something that has not been said before or for demonstrating an incredibly high skill level. This has meant giving career-making opportunities to veteran artists looking to break the glass ceiling of their field, gifted students just out of an MFA program, and self-taught artists who received no formal introduction to the art world. Achieving true equality in the arts and letters may seem a daunting task, but Pen and Brush is tireless in its mission to give a platform to brilliant women and non-binary creators. “We can’t give up on them. We have to build into the future so that we can keep passing that torch, so maybe someday, it won’t be needed. ”
Living Fresh Men’s Spa was the first men-only spa in New York when it opened in the early 2000s. Here, men can relax and enjoy luxurious spa treatments in the privacy of this serene, dark wood and stone-paneled space. The store’s entrance is small, so most people are unaware of its existence. Once we walked inside, we were both enchanted and impressed by how extensive and comprehensive it is – a contemporary, warmly lit seating area leads back to a well-appointed bar, manicure and pedicure room, and a long hallway of private spa rooms dedicated separately to facial, body, and hair removal treatments and services. Living Fresh Men’s Spa also works with botox and filler treatments, laser hair removal, ReFirm skin tightening, and acne laser therapy. Each thoughtfully-appointed treatment room has its own sauna and shower. We found Living Fresh to be a luxurious setting for busy, stressed, or simply hygiene-obsessed men to take care of their bodies and release some of the tensions brought on by the daily cacophony of New York. From Tuesday through Saturday, after 6pm, men can enjoy 20% off single service massages.
We stumbled into BXL on a blisteringly hot day and were met by their refreshing air conditioning -- reason enough to stay. But even more, BXL is a splendid space, with warm wooden floors, banquette seating indoors and tables set up outside when the weather cooperates... and a very kind European owner. We spoke to Klaas about his restaurant and learned that having grown up in Belgium, and completing his training, he became the private chef for their ambassador. He was disarmingly charismatic and kind as he told us about BXL’s menu – he emphasized the "all you can eat" mussel pots that come with a cold Stella for $22. 00 and the array of different sauces to choose from: white wine shallot broth, white wine and cream, endive and cream, wheat beer, cream with bacon and onions, coconut milk with lemon grass and curry. Mussels are not the only food choice. There are other great Belgian dishes, plus simple burgers, pasta and salads. Without a doubt, stopping by BXL for a cold beer and some friendly conversation was exactly what our team needed.