Chelsea – The Art Center Of NYC?

Meeting artists and art enthusiasts from Brooklyn to the Lower East Side, all I was hearing about was how the New York City neighborhood Chelsea is the center of the art universe in NYC; if you’ve ever exhibited in Chelsea, you’ve somehow “made it” in the art world. This lofty claim peaked my interest and I was quite excited to check out art openings on the busiest night of the week in Chelsea –  a Thursday night. Despite the damage that was sustained by many galleries in the area during the recent Hurricane Sandy fiasco (due to Chelsea’s proximity to the Hudson) and the huge amount of artwork damaged – the show must go on, and so it did… Though I did feel for the disgruntled artists (some of whose work had been damaged) when they were disgusted at how other neighbor galleries could continue to parade around and celebrate, while others were struggling to get their galleries up and running again. But that’s another story…

Closing Time, Turn Off All The Lights…

The frenzy over Chelsea had me expecting socialites in stiletto heels, well-stocked wine bars, and jam-packed galleries. What I found though were empty galleries, lights dimmed, and a bunch of Closed signs… I looked at the clock on my phone and thought “Could this be right, it’s only 8pm? Maybe they didn’t have an opening tonight after all…” But no, after double-checking which time zone I was in, it was indeed just after 8pm and the galleries were indeed shut. Apparently, many galleries in the Chelsea area only stay opened from about 6-8pm on opening night. In that case, Berlin definitely knows how to do art openings better… At that hour in Berlin, things would just be heating up!

Walking down 24th Street in Chelsea, I was able to come across some places right before they shut down for the evening… though I was met by not-so-friendly gallerists who were pretty tense and clearly not wanting anyone to enter into the gallery – even though they were still set to be open for another 30mins. I guess gallerists in Chelsea must have better things to do on a Thursday night. I was, however, able to catch some impressive art at C24 Gallery (Ali Kazma videos were screening) and Levis Fine Art (the figurative and abstract expressionist painter Elaine de Kooning’s impressive works were accentuated by the light and friendly atmosphere of the gallery). 

Elaine de KooningArtwork by Elaine de Kooning at Levis Fine Art in Chelsea, NYC.

Leaving Levis Fine Art, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the conversation of the girls following me down the stairs: “Oh, are you throwing away your wine cup now? Or will you be a badass and drink the wine outside? Sometimes I forget it’s against the law… you know I hear that in Europe you’re totally allowed to drink alcohol outdoors. How crazy is that?” If only they knew. But wine aside, overall the art scene in Chelsea seemed to be a bit dormant, though in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, this could be a result of Chelsea still being in recovery-mode.

Article written by Julie Anne Miranda-Brobeck