I'm a freelance writer/photographer living in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.
Published April 2nd 2011
New Yorkers have come to know Chelsea as the must-see neighborhood for contemporary art, but the Lower East Side has for years been an incubator for emerging artists and the galleries that represent them. And now, with the Bowery becoming the city's downtown jewel for funky high-end shops and luxury hotels, it's not surprising that more galleries followed. For the latest developments, take this self-guided tour of some of the great art spots located on the Lower East Side.
Start your tour at the New Museum, located at 235 Bowery near Prince Street. Attracting a host of people to emerging and established artists, the New Museum has recently mounted shows about the writer and poet Brion Gysin and his Dream Machine, contributions from Matthew Barney, and a retrospective of painter Elizabeth Peyton.
Next, take in Salon 94, located on 243 Bowery a few doors north. This is but one of the gallery's three New York locations, collectively representing a diverse group of artists including painter Marilyn Minter and photographer Laurie Simmons. The current show, which features photographic works by Katy Grannan, is on display until April 30.
King of the art scene, Sperone Westwater, located in an amazing new space at 257 Bowery, left Chelsea in 2010 to make its permanent home on the Lower East Side. The gallery will bring an amazing array of talent farther downtown, including art by Susan Rothenberg, Tom Sachs, Julian Schnabel, Andy Warhol, and Richard Tuttle. A recent show there by British artist Evan Penny had art critics and art lovers doing double takes.
Turn left off the Bowery to Stanton Street and walk southeast to 201 Chrystie where you'll find Lehmann Maupin. Home to established artists Tracey Emin, Ross Bleckner, Gilbert & George, and Ashley Bickerton, Lehmann Maupin represents one of the most respected galleries in the city. Current exhibits by Angel Otero and Tim Rollins and K.O.S. end on April 16 and April 30, respectively.
The next cluster of galleries lay beyond Sara D. Roosevelt Park, but sitting within the public grounds affords an open-air break to enjoy refreshments. Get hot or cold take-out in any combination from the table buffets at nearby Whole Foods Market and watch the basketball games that take place in the park on any given day.
Exit the park on the northeast corner and walk toward Forsyth Street. The next stop is between Forsyth and Eldridge Streets. Stop at Half Gallery, 208 Forsyth Street, an up-and-coming dealer who has shown works by Matt Damhave, Robert Hawkins, and David Armstrong. The current show, which features sculptural ceramics by Julia Chiang, is up until May 2. For fun, check out MyPlasticHeartNYC, a designer toy store and gallery next door for a look at Asian-inspired toys and games.
Your final stop takes you farther south (after crossing Allen Street) to 133 Orchard Street and the gallery, On Stellar Rays. Expect the unexpected from contemporary artistic upstarts including Alix Pearlstein, JJ Peet, Zipora Fried, Clifford Owens, and Maria Petschnig. A current exhibit there by Rochelle Feinstein ends May 1.