The Gallery Bash - March 8th 2003
By William Powhida
can Williamsburg possibly compete with the hundred plus
galleries in Chelsea for the attention of the art world?
Well, you could throw a really big party. On Saturday
March 8th, the Williamsburg Gallery Association announces
its presence with an inaugural after-Armory show Gallery
Bash. All 26 member galleries will be open until midnight
with an after party at the Northside Bank, 33 Grand St.,
in hopes of luring Armory show goers across the East River.
The WGA was formed last year to promote a more stable image
to the international art community, according to WGA president,
Edward Winkleman, co-director of Plus Ultra.
Galleries in the burg have buzz, a Norwegian writer has
been asking me questions about its emerging status as alternative
to Chelsea, but has anyone seen an advertisement for a Williamsburg
based solo show in Art and America? The costs for taking
out ads have been beyond the reach of the majority of the
galleries. Buying ad space as a gallery bloc allows the
WGA to raise its visibility. As Winkleman puts it "there
is only one real reason the galleries have formed the association:
to increase of the numbers of people who come to see our
exhibits. We plan to work toward that through events, advertising.
Promoting stability among the WGA members seems to be one
goal the galleries could agree upon, although this doesn't
mean galleries have to lose their unique character. Winkleman
says " We want people who come to Williamsburg to be
confident that the galleries they want to visit are going
to be open when they say they are. There's a difference
between being "anti-professional" . . .and frustrating
people who've made a special effort to come see this great
space they've heard about only to find the doors locked."
Apparently, the idea for a gallery association has kicked
around for years, but there wasn't any consensus on what
the mission would be. By limiting themselves to a primary
goal of creating a stable and visible gallery district,
the diverse members were able to come together. Winkleman
confesses " The miracle of the association is that
we've been able to agree on a few core goals and always
revert back to those as guideposts whenever we get sidetracked."
It appears that Rebecca Smith's persistence and efforts
have paid off. The owner of Bellwether was a driving force
behind the WGA, according to Winkleman, although
there are some natural and man-made hurdles facing the big
party. The L train will be running in stages on the night
of the Armory making it a prohibitive choice, although I'm
sure most people who attend the Armory show can afford a
cab. On this front Winkleman diplomatically states "
In general we make an effort to alert all members to issues,
and then let them decide how to respond as individual businesses."
Ron Segev of Star 67 suggested the association charter a
shuttle bus for the evening, not a bad idea.
The weather has also been ridiculously awful for the last
month, making gallery-going rather painful. It has slowed
foot traffic noticeably, but Winkleman hopes the WGA's efforts
can help bring people out " We want more traffic. We
all work way too hard to be satisfied with such low turnout."
Having curated a show and watched all of ten people brave
the cold and rain for a five-minute look around on a Sunday
can be dispiriting, but the weather has been brutal. Fortunately,
it has been improving and won't keep people off the streets
Saturday night. It'll take a little more than a slow train
and some cold wind to keep me away from what sounds like
a big around the world party. Wear something warm, put on
some comfortable shoes, come out on the 8th, and party Williamsburg
style with art.
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