Late last year, Luis Miguel Bendaña and Sam Lipp, the directors of Queer Thoughts, a venturesome gallery located in a modestly sized apartment in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, began making plans to relocate the space to New York. But before doing that, they had something of a world tour to embark on. First they organized a sprawling group show at three different places in Nicaragua, where Bendaña’s family is from, and then participated in the Paramount Ranch and Material art fairs, in January in Los Angeles and February in Mexico City, respectively.
“We’ll finally be in New York by the middle of April,” Bendaña told me, when I reached them by phone in March. At the time they were hanging in Northern California, where Lipp is from, getting ready to head off to Europe, for Lipp’s solo show at Neochrome in Turin, Italy, and for a group show they organized at Arcadia Missa in London. But now they have arrived in New York, and have obtained a lease on the third floor of 373 Broadway, near Franklin Street, in TriBeCa.
“Keeping in the lineage of the last space we had in Chicago, it’s small,” Bendaña told me by phone, “but it’s about two and a half times as big.” It’s located around the corner from the Postmasters and Kansas galleries and a short walk from La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela’s Dream House. “We had sort of always imagined, when we would relocate to New York, not being directly on the LES, just because there’s already a lot going on there,” he added. “So we were looking at spaces that were around but a little bit away from the Lower East Side.”
Why move the gallery? “We just wanted to participate in a new conversation,” Lipp said. “We really liked Chicago. It was really great for us to start and develop [but] we wanted to try something different.” Since they’re both artists, he said, “It’s just very inspiring to be in a new city with a bigger community and more institutions.”
QT will host its first show in early August (date to be announced soon), a group outing with Diamond Antoinette Stingily, Georgie Nettell, Darja Bajagić, Patricia L Boyd, and Komar & Melamid with Dave Soldier. That will be followed by a show from the artist who goes by the name of Puppies Puppies. It will be his first one-person exhibition in New York. (PP fans, take note: EGG, the Chicago space that PP runs with Forrest Nash, who founded Contemporary Art Daily, just organized a show at the Essex Street gallery on the Lower East Side.)
In Chicago, QT showed a wide range of artists, from the Berlin-born, Vienna-based Lucie Stahl to the elusive draughtsman David Rappeneau to New York’s Pia Howell, while also hosting an array of one-off events. But while its location has changed, there are no plans to alter the approach to programming, or to begin officially representing artists. “We’ve been operating in an indeterminate zone in a few respects,” Bendaña said, “in terms of us being an artist-run space—it’s slightly commercial, but it’s artist- and project-oriented.”
“We are just going to do what we’re doing,” he said.