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New Bushwick Gallery Hub Takes Shape on Willoughby Ave

Exterior of 1329 Willoughby Avenue (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)
Exterior of 1329 Willoughby Avenue (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

A new gallery hub is emerging in Bushwick. The low, two-story industrial building at 1329 Willoughby Avenue is already home to Microscope Gallery, and in January 2015 two more galleries will open up there. Tiger Strikes Asteroid (TSA), currently located on Stewart Avenue, is in the process of building out a space in the building, as is a new and as yet unnamed gallery that will be run by six artists. One of them is Rob de Oude, one half (with Enrico Gomez) of Parallel Art Space, which was forced to shut down when the landlord in its former building, 17-17 Troutman Street, moved to oust all the building’s galleries.

“The landlord [at 1329 Willoughby] seems to be really nice and amiable to galleries, as opposed to what we were dealing with at 17-17 Troutman,” de Oude told Hyperallergic over the telephone. “The new location is Bushwick central, so to speak, with Schema Projects around the corner, Norte Maar around the corner, and Sardine nearby.”

De Oude’s new gallery will have roughly 400 square feet, as will the new TSA space. Microscope has more than double that amount space.

Installation view of Allison Somers exhibition 'Enfolding' at Microscope Gallery (photo © 2014 Microscope Gallery)
Installation view of Allison Somers exhibition ‘Enfolding’ at Microscope Gallery (photo © 2014 Microscope Gallery)

“My partner Andrea [Monti] and I looked seriously for more than five months,” Elle Burchill, the co-founder of Microscope, told Hyperallergic via email. “We had seen over 30 spaces when we discovered the listing. We were about to sign a lease on another space that we not completely sure about. What we liked most about the space was the great location, size — 2,000 square feet — and it is quiet and feels very peaceful, unlike our previous space that had the train running by all the time.”

Burchill and Monti moved into the building in August and opened their first exhibition there, a group show titled Slide Slide Slide, on September 5. They also started spreading the word about the new building they’d found.

“The galleries here know each other and talk to each other quite a bit,” Burchill said. “We knew others were also looking and put out the word that we had a tip on a great space.”

While TSA, another gallery run by a group of artists, wasn’t facing a situation as dire as Parallel Art Space, its members had been hunting for a new location.

“When news about 17-17 Troutman broke, a lot of people started scrambling to find a space,” Alex Paik, TSA’s director, told Hyperallergic. “While we didn’t need to move, we figured it was a great time to be able to choose our neighbors rather than waiting until we couldn’t afford our lease any longer … Rob and I very quickly realized that we could work well together and we both respected each other’s programming so it seemed like a natural fit to keep looking for smaller places that we could possibly divide up.”

That’s when the tip came from Burchill and Monti. Now Paik and de Oude are carving up a 2,000 square foot space into two galleries and two studios.

Tiger Strikes Asteroid and Rob de Oude's new spaces at 1329 Willoughby, mid-construction (photo by Alex Paik)
Tiger Strikes Asteroid and Rob de Oude’s new spaces at 1329 Willoughby, mid-construction (photo by Alex Paik)

“While it is not dirt cheap, it is a good deal still and we have a long term lease which is important for the stability of our respective galleries, ” Paik said. “Rob and I have been working on the space since October. The space was raw, so we are building everything out. Our galleries will be in the front and we will have studios in the back… It will be great to have three galleries in the same location. We are hoping that it becomes a hub similar to what 17-17 Troutman was or what 56 Bogart is.”

And like those former and current destination buildings for the cognoscenti of the Bushwick art scene, 1329 Willoughby may well soon be home to more artist-run galleries.

“I’m trying to get Onderdonk and Ortega [two other former 17-17 Troutman galleries] in, but that depends on the landlord,” de Oude said. “There are more spaces becoming available.”

Exterior of 1329 Willoughby Avenue (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)
Exterior of 1329 Willoughby Avenue (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

In the meantime, de Oude is focusing on finishing his space, which he will run along with Carl Gunhouse, Sara Jones, Thomas Marquet, Rod Malin (who runs Baltimore’s Guest Spot gallery), and Mel Prest. The new gallery will open its first show, a solo exhibition by Clinton King that was originally slated to happen at Parallel Art Space, on January 9, 2015, the same night that TSA will debut in its new space — a group exhibition curated by Andrew Prayzner — and a solo show of work by Zach Nader will open at Microscope.

“We’re putting in extra time, extra money, and extra effort to create a community,” de Oude said.

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