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Dabora Gallery
by Grant Moser

"I don't think this is what most people expect when they walk into a gallery," explained Lynda Mahan, director of Dabora Gallery. "I hope it can give them a really different experience."

Black and deep red velvet curtains, Victorian furniture, chandeliers suspended from the ceiling, shadows in the corners, and beautiful (and quietly disturbing) art is what a visitor to Dabora finds.

"I hope my gallery doesn't distract from the art, but it is its own experience," Mahan said. She is a painter herself, but always knew she wanted to run a gallery, and that it would be exactly like the one she finds herself in now.

"I like the aesthetic. It's totally my style. The artwork I like fits into this environment well; they enhance each other."

The art she chooses is done on an instinctual level: it has to move her immediately, create an emotional response, a gut reaction. "I'm attracted to a certain type of sensibility in art. Some people think the artwork here is a little disturbing. I guess it is on some level, but I think it's beautiful."

The current show (by Timothy Cummings) is a collection of children's portraits. But it is more than portraits. The faces are disfigured by spots, tattoos, or markings. Rather than making the faces ugly or evil, it further highlights their innocence. Past shows have included twisted dollhouses, or a multimedia book about a transgendered person's journey to uncover a government plot.

Opened the spring of 2001, Dabora has challenged what a gallery should be and looks at what it could be. "The environment does limit the style of work I show here, but I get a lot out of experiencing art like this. The sensory overload can take you out of your head. It seems to really get people in the right mood to take in the art."

It makes the visit with the art more intimate. It's like hanging out and absorbing, rather than just viewing. "I do want people to feel comfortable in here. I want them to relax and enjoy."

Mahan likes that Dabora is unlike other galleries. "The last thing I want to do is make this into a commodity. My whole life has been resumes, interviews, work. I'm doing this because I love it. If it comes to the point where I have to bend to the expectations of the art world, I wouldn't want to do it."

This doesn't mean she doesn't enjoy other, more conventional galleries. And she likes the spate of artist-run galleries that have sprouted throughout Williamsburg. "Having an artist-run gallery is great. I think it makes a huge impact and difference because they love art. It's not an investment or a business decision for them."

As for Dabora's location in northern Greenpoint, Mahan admits she is a bit removed from the Williamsburg-proper scene. "I do feel isolated out here, but I sort of like it too. I feel uncomfortable about being included in a 'certain-scene-of-things-going-on.'" I enjoy being independent."

Dabora will be closed in July and August, but will be reopening in September with a yet-as-undetermined show. The month of October will feature a group show, events every weekend, and Halloween parties. She is looking for visual artists, performers, and musicians to participate. Please send information or photos to the addresses listed below. November will feature a husband and wife show of marionettes and taxidermy pieces.

Dabora is located at 1080 Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint, and is open from 1-5pm on Saturdays. For more information, please call718.609.9629, email at [email protected], or visit:

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Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
[email protected] | July 2002 | Issue 28
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