Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Chelsea Art Galleries on the Rebound + Emergency Resources for Artists

Cup of the Day #112
"The Deluge 2012", by Gwyneth Leech
India Ink on upcycled paper cup

"We are open!" exclaimed an art dealer just two weeks after hurricane Sandy. "Despite all the sad stories, many galleries in Chelsea are open for business. And if you have been eyeing a piece of art, even if the price is only $100, now is the time to make that purchase!"

Such a turn-around hardly seemed possible on November 1st, three days after the storm. I had walked twenty blocks down to the power-less and waterlogged gallery district. It was shocking to see high water marks four and five feet up the sides of gallery walls a block or more from the Hudson river. Teams of people were already at work on the cleanup, the scene dominated by disaster mediation workers in hazmat suits, by the sound of gas generators and pumps. On every street between 27th and 18th mountains of packaging, ruined crates and trash bags lined the sidewalks and filled dumpsters. Salvaged art was being packed into trucks and sent to restorers. The galleries were dank and darkened shells, unrecognizable from their usual character as brightly lit and rarefied temples of culture.

Four foot highwater line outside Sonnabend Gallery on 22nd Street.

Servpro at work on 26th Street, November 1st.

Outside Jack Shainman Gallery on West 20th Street, where the basement level flooded 

Remedial work advancing in a 22nd Street gallery, November 1st. 

Only a few days later, I received an e-mail saying that numerous galleries were opening exhibitions on Thursday the 8th of November. Power had been restored to most of the city below 34th Street and a come-back in Chelsea was already under way! I went but it was a rather somber evening. The usual crowds of opening-goers were absent. Several major gallery buildings were still without power from damage to services at basement level. Most street level spaces were still closed and restoration work was visibly underway into the night. 

However, upstairs spaces, of which there are many, were abuzz and some street level galleries, by fluke of raised door steps or the absence of basements had escaped unscathed and were open to the public.

Gallery restoration on 25th Street, November 8th

 James Cohan Gallery, West 26th Street, Chelsea, Trenton Doyle Hancock opening November 8th

 Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, West 24th Street
Peter Campus, "Now and Then" opening, November 8th

It was especially heartening to see Printed Matter, purveyor of "15,000 artists books", open again after having so much of their material and archives damaged when the basement flooded as far from the river as 10th Avenue. Overall, the bright lights and hardy art viewers were a comfort and predicator that the Chelsea art scene is resilient and will soon be back up to speed.

Printed Matter on 10th Avenue at 22nd Street open for business on November 8th

Salvage work outside Printed Matter on November 1st.

Much further from view are the many stricken art neighborhoods around the city, especially in low-lying parts of Hoboken, Jersey City, Red Hook, Greenpoint and Gowanus where artists' studios and storage spaces as well as small alternative galleries were flooded. Some artists lost decades of work and were less likely than art galleries to have adequate insurance, if any. Numerous arts organizations and foundations have stepped up to the plate and are offering emergency support and services. Below is a list compiled by the Lower Manhattan Cultural council.

Cleanup outside Bortolami Gallery on West 20th Street, November 1st.

Emergency Resources for Artists
Complied by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
Artists, please note: if any of your work or live/work space has been
damaged, take pictures and keep receipts of whatever you spend during this

*Self-employed people are eligible for 'disaster unemployment insurance'* in
areas where a federal declaration of disaster has been declared. About.com
explains more:

*LMCC's Emergency Grants List:*

*NYFA's Emergency Grants List:*

*Joan Mitchell Foundation:* sent out this message after the Hurricane:
"If you are - or know of - a visual artist who has been affected by the
hurricane please contact us. The Foundation has funding allocated
specifically for emergency assistance to painters and sculptors affected by
natural disasters... We know that communication for many is very limited
now, but our staff can be reached by email at:

*Small Business Disaster Relief Loans:*
Federal: Small Business Administration


City: Department of Small Business Services has set up a Sandy recovery
website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/sbs/nycbiz/html/home/home.shtml

For more information about the loans, call 311 and ask for NYC Business

*Links to salvage / conservation / recovery information:*
Conservation OnLine:
Studio Protector:

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training:
Heritage Preservation:
Arts Ready: https://www.artsready.org/page/useful_links
MoMA consortium on conserving works released this
emergency handling of artwork damaged by flooding.

*Christie's*: Christie's is arranging space for Downtown artists to use
their laptops and charge their phones, and may be able to assist galleries
with storage space for their art. Those interested, please call (212)

*New York City Economic Development Corporation*: For any business
temporarily displaced, NYCEDC may have short-term "swing" office or storage
space: information at www.nyc.gov/nycbusiness

*New York City Arts Coalition offers helpful information about FEMA*:
Federal disaster resources will be dependent on your (or your arts
group/business) being registered at FEMA. Go to

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