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Art Haus
By Grant Moser

Emma Louise wanted her own art gallery for a long time. As an artist, she made "different art," which opened her eyes - being an artist was hard enough, but being outside "mainstream art" made it even harder.

"If you only make strange stuff, you feel even more outside." Dollhaus is Emma's attempt to provide other artists like her the opportunity to show their "different" work. Judging from her first exhibition, she succeeded.

The Empire of S.N.A.F.U. Restoration Project is extremely unique (and while sometimes disturbing), an excruciatingly fascinating show. It includes numerous dioramas that are mechanically-operated and individually-oriented. Meticulously detailed and beautiful, the show immerses the viewer in the world of a wanderer, designer and collector.

"I like unusual objects. I like skills, talent, a certain feel in the work I show. Dark, unusual concepts…. that's my taste. I chose S.N.A.F.U. because I wanted something people had never seen before. I like to make people amazed, scream, and laugh." She plans to stick with these instincts on how to chose art. "I never want to compromise my space with bad art [uninteresting or uninspiring]."

Other instincts of hers originally wanted to open the gallery in New Orleans. However, she had been in Brooklyn for years and felt after her investment of time and effort here, she might as well start here. But she still dreams of having another gallery in New Orleans someday.

Her time here has afforded her the perspective to look back on how the neighborhood has changed. She notes that while it is safer and there is more appreciation of local art, rents have blossomed and a new slew of stores have changed the vibe. "It's always bad when artists can't afford a city."

To help her afford the city, Emma also serves tea. Dollhaus (named after both her passion for dolls and the first mental institution for women in Germany) is also a teahaus, if you will. You can come and have tea, sandwiches, and biscuits while you gaze at the art. She is running a $4 special right now: a cheddar cheese and branston pickle tea sandwich, a pot of Earl Grey, and a plate of biscuits.

She hopes this entices people to come to her gallery. Emma also is hoping to start showing 16mm films during the week as a bonus. Her hours ( 'til midnight on weekdays and 2am on the weekends) is also designed to facilitate visits. Six days a week, people can visit the Dollhaus and sit and wile away the night.

It's another way of shifting the focus of what we're accustomed to from galleries.

The Empire of S.N.A.F.U. Restoration Project runs through August 24. Her next show features a Japanese surrealist who will construct an intricate installation to lead to his paintings. That opens Friday, September 13.

Dollhaus is located at 37 Broadway, a block down from Diner towards the water. It is open Tuesday through Thursday from 2pm to midnight, and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 2pm to 2am. For more information, call 718.384.6139 or visit

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Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
[email protected] | August 2002 | Issue 29
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