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Black and White and Lots of Color
by Grant Moser


Lael Marshall

When Tatyana Okshteyn opened Black and White Gallery in September 2002, it felt like a rebirth for her. Her husband, an artist, moved his studio to Williamsburg in 2001 and both of them fell in love with the neighborhood. "It feels like we came home," she said. After years of curating shows in the city, Tatyana decided it was time to have a gallery of her own. "I told my husband 'I'm quitting my job and I'm opening a gallery.'" Her friends said, "What took you so long?"

When you walk through the door of Black and White Gallery, the first thing that comes to your mind is space, and then light. Your eyes wander down the art-adorned walls to the open back door that leads to an outdoor sculpture garden. The first show premiered September 20 and features colorful, large paintings by Andrew Piedilato, black and white photographs by Meighan Gale, and beautiful and mysterious sculptures by Tony Stanzione.

Her first love is painting, which she has dedicated the main room to. Her new love is sculpture, and hence the roofless outdoor room she refers to as "the cement box." The small space in between those two is set aside for other work. She is open for suggestions for that space, as well as for the space below the glass planes cut in the floor.

"I opened this gallery to create a venue for young American artists exploring contemporary themes and concepts," Tatyana said. "I like traditional art forms that express contemporary values. That doesn't mean I look for people to mimic the old masters; I look for art that makes me think, leaves room for the viewer to dream, lets us get lost in it."

She has singled out American artists to show because she believes Americans are freer in their expression, as opposed to European artists that are limited by the strong traditions. "Americans do art their way because it is their choice to do it that way. It is not what school tells them to do."

That spark and expression is what she looks for in pieces to show: "I look for what I call a genuine impulse. It has something to do with someone making an image which is really part of his or her character, what they are about, whether it's fashionable at the moment or not."

In fact, she selects work to show based solely on her gut reaction. "I hope viewers will get what I got from the work. I am taken by the freshness of it, the ability of it to lead me away like Alice in Wonderland; step over the threshold and let's go." She loves the work she selects so much that every artist she shows she buys a piece from.

That perhaps defines Tatyana the best. This whole experiment is about her love of art, and nothing else. "I was never interested in a gallery in Chelsea or Soho. It's ruled by money and decisions are based solely on that. The art suffers if all the gallery owner is worried about is the rent. Here, I'm just doing what I like."

The next show opens November 1 and features the paintings of Lael Marshall and the sculpture of Dewitt Godfrey.

Black and White Gallery is located at 483 Driggs Avenue between N.9th and N.10th. The gallery is open from 1-7pm Thursday through Monday. For more information, call 718 599-8775, email [email protected], or visit www.okshteyn.com/black_white_kiosk.htm.

 



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