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The Times, They Are A-Changing
Schroeder-Romero Gallery

Back in 1992, Lisa Schroeder was part of Sauce, a Williamsburg gallery opened by local artists to show what was happening here. It concentrated mainly on big group shows and was very laid-back. "We were the slacker gallery," she said. "Everything was very loose."

Tragedy struck in 1996 when one of the curators died and the space shut down for a while, but reopened in 1997 as FEED. That gallery concentrated on solo and 2-person shows. As the pace picked up in the neighborhood, so did business at FEED. Schroeder needed a partner and in 2001 she found Sara Jo Romero, who had worked at galleries in Manhattan. Last fall, the gallery changed its name again and Schroeder-Romero was born.

"We look for conceptual art. No decorative pieces. We like socio-political content. It should have technical quality with a deep meaning behind it," said Romero. "The gallery concentrates on emerging artists and mid-career artists, and we choose to stick with solo shows so we can give personal attention to the art and show a whole body of work, not just a piece."

While showing Brooklyn artists for the most part, Schroeder-Romero has begun branching out and looks for work both nationally and internationally. This is, in part, a reaction to the expanding influence of Williamsburg in the art world and the attention it receives. "The international appeal of the neighborhood is crazy. It's good for the scene because exposure is always beneficial for art," said Schroeder.

"So much has changed since I started here almost 10 years ago," she continued. "The landscape has changed - more restaurants, bars, stores, clubs - all the additional activities encourage people to make the trip here that wouldn't have before. And the numbers of galleries that have opened provide more choice to the viewer. People will go to their favorite ones; the ones they respond to."

Asked to compare the present scene from the one in 1992, Schroeder said then the curating was looser, the art more experimental, more video and performance art was shown, and it was like a big party celebrating art. "Everybody knew everybody else. It was simply about the art, not about the money. We didn't sell a piece for five years, and we didn't mind."

Now, however, things are different, she said. Artists are still creating but the explosive energy apparent in 1992 isn't here anymore. "I'm seeing a lot more photography now, large format art. Which is fine. But back then everyone was producing "found art," using whatever they found in the trash, on the street, wherever. It's changed."

But Williamsburg is still Williamsburg. Schroeder lives in the back of her gallery, and rents 4 studios in the building to local artists. It is that accessibility her and Romero prize about the area. "The spaces are still funky here. They're all different. There's no set style that a gallery has to look like. Any space can be made into a gallery. I like that and I think it keeps things fresh. I want it to stay like that; not become a mini-Chelsea," Romero said.

"Williamsburg is still growing - it's not the best it can be yet. Sure, it's not underground anymore, but its influence on the rest of the art world is undeniable, and it still has its own distinct flavor you don't find in other art neighborhoods. Everyone that comes here will find something to take away," Romero said.

Schoeder-Romero's current show is The Story of M, a photographic documentation of one man's life by Lynn Cazabon. It runs from March 29 to April 21. The gallery is also participating in the Paris/Brooklyn Exchange. Galleries in Paris will show Williamsburg artists and vice versa. On view at Schroeder-Romero will be work from Galerie Anne Barrault representing contemporary photography in Paris. It runs from April 26 to June 8.

The gallery is located at 173A North 3rd St. It is open Friday through Sunday 12-6 and by appointment. For more information, please call 718.486.8992 or email [email protected].

-- by Grant Moser

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Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
[email protected] | April 2002 | Issue 25
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