Archie Lee Coates III is one of seven curators of Beginnings-, a new gallery that launched Thursday night on a side street in Greenpoint. He met with me a few hours before the opening of their inaugural exhibition to discuss the challenges or the lack thereof to running a space with seven pairs of hands in the kitchen.
One of the common threads that brought this collective together is a person, Joel Speasmaker, who is the founder of The Drama, a now defunct quarterly arts magazine. During the nine issue lifespan of that magazine, Archie met Joel, who always offered a helping hands when needed, which led to meeting Andy Jenkins, who performed during one of the release parties, which led to meeting contributors Matt Leines and Caroline Hwang, and somewhere in there a couple falls in love and two others join the mix until you have the current circle of curators at this newfound space.
After many weekly meetings where everything from art, electrical rewiring, and cleaning up the walls were discussed Beginnings- was born. The curatorial process for their inaugural show was fairly democratic and each curator contributed a list of artists they’d like to work with, which after a process of discussion, led to the show that is currently on display.
“Having the show was a great excuse to be able to see the works of artists we’ve been in love with online and to have this opportunity to see them in person in a physical space.” says Joel. “There is no curatorial thread, just experimenting and discovering how we were going to work together, figuring out our quirks and pushing each other and the artists involved to work together.”
A collective voice guided their aptly titled exhibition, “The Beginning,” which showcases the works of 29 artists from various parts of the world, many of whom have never been shown in New York.
There is a bounty of works on paper and canvas and one sculpture sits by the display window. David Jien’s “Willie’s dip n’ slip/ William’s Folly” (2012) gives erotic 19th century scroll paintings a makeover with a giant reflective penis fountain, while Matt Leines’ “Young Turks” (2012) portrays ladies — who are part Picasso and part psychedelic pop art — playing chess. Both artists toy with composition and have a playful attitude towards their two-dimensional surfaces as they jazz them up with geometric grids and skewed patterns.
The team have already planned the first year of the gallery, which will include three group and seven individually curated shows (one per curator). Their mission, I’m told, is to bring artists, curators, and communities together. “Our mission is to show what needs to be shown, have conversations with artists, educate the community about the works and begin friendly lasting relationships,” Joel says.
Artists participating in the gallery’s first show are Mari Andrews, Nick Butcher & Nadine Nakanishi, Heather Culp, Stephen Eichhorn, Amze Emmons, Matt Furie, David Giordano, Matthew Giordano, David Jien, Daehyun Kim, James Kirkpatrick, Chris Kline, Aidan Koch, Oliver Kossack, Matt Leines, Isaac Lin, Matt Lock, Simon Massey di Vallazza, Otto Milo, Mumbreeze, Peter Nencini, Daniel Owen, Nick Payne, Jenni Rope, Andreas Schimanski, Eric Shaw, Lanya Snyder, Marta Stockwell, James Ulmer
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