I'm a freelance writer/photographer living in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.
Published December 18th 2009
New York's most eclectic neighborhood is now its most artful. Chelsea, formerly known as the meatpacking district, is located west of Fifth Avenue from 14th to 30th Streets. Once a neighborhood filled with barren factories, it is now home to upscale boutiques, trendy nightclubs, theme restaurants, and has since become the heart of the city's contemporary art scene.
Though the galleries are located throughout Chelsea, most of the major players can be found on 24th through 26th Streets, from Ninth to Eleventh Avenues. Begin your tour on 24th Street near Tenth Avenue and walk west. Stop first at Barbara Gladstone (515 W. 24th Street) where you'll find works by Richard Prince, Rosemarie Trockel, Matthew Barney, and Anish Kapoor. Next up is Matthew Marks (523 W. 24th Street), a gallery that represents photographers Peter Hujar and Nan Goldin and well as big name painters, such as Jasper Johns, Brice Marden, and Ellsworth Kelly. A must see is Mary Boone Gallery (541 W. 24th Street), a long time mover and shaker that shows many well known artists including Eric Fischl, Terence Koh, Barbara Kruger, David Salle, and Francisco Clemente. Finally, no less important is Metro Pictures (519 W. 24th Street), known for showing works by Robert Longo, Mike Kelley, and photographer Cindy Sherman.
Turn north on Eleventh Avenue to 25th Street to get to P.P.O.W. (555 W. 25th Street), the name a playful take on the owners' initials. Inside you'll find works by David Wojnarowicz as well as painters Julie Heffernan and Portia Munson. No gallery crawl would be complete without a visit to Pace Wildenstein (534 W. 25th Street), where you'll encounter works by free-spirited David Hockney, freaky Lucas Samaras, and minimalist Mark Rothko. Another not-to-miss hot spot is Cheim & Read (547 W. 25th), home to photographers Diane Arbus and Robert Mapplethorpe as well as media artist Jenny Holzer and sculptress Louise Bourgeois.
Head just one block north to 26th Street where you'll encounter Robert Miller Gallery (524 W. 26th Street) that has recently shown interesting new Polaroid works by filmmaker Jem Cohen as well as many established artists including painter Alice Neel. Next up is Lehmann Maupin Gallery (540 W. 26th Street) that represents the ever-popular Tracey Emin, Gilbert & George, David Salle, Ashley Bickerton, Ross Bleckner, and Tim Rollins and K.O.S. The final stop on the tour is none-other-than Tony Shafrazi Gallery (544 W. 26th Street), a throwback to the 1980s but no less important today. Shafrazi continues to represent some of the biggest names in contemporary art including Francis Bacon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Ed Ruscha, and Kenny Scharf.