Gavlak Gallery’s L.A. outpost has added Amy Bessone, Francesca Gabbiani, Dean Sameshima, and Marnie Weber to its fast-growing roster of artists that includes Marilyn Minter, Wade Guyton, Betty Tompkins, and Jack Pierson. Owner Sarah Gavlak has known the four new additions since the 1990s, a decade she spent living and attending graduate school in L.A.; the relationships continued after she moved to New York, and then to Palm Beach, where the original Gavlak Gallery will celebrate its 10th anniversary this November.
“I had a project space in my apartment in Silver Lake, and I showed Dean’s first exhibition in 1994 or 1995, right after he finished his undergrad at CalArts,” Gavlak recounted over the phone. “I did a print editions project with Francesca when I was in New York, and I put Amy Bessone in a group show in Palm Beach a few years ago. Marnie Weber is an artist I’ve admired for many years and was around socially in the ’90s when I was here—I always thought she was such an incredible artist.”
Her new L.A. space, which opened last year on Highland Avenue, is much bigger than its South Florida counterpart—10,000 vs. 2,000 square feet—in accordance with the scope of the local art scene. “When I moved to Palm Beach [in 2005], there wasn’t really a gallery doing exhibitions or participating in art fairs or really bringing the best emerging contemporary art to Palm Beach, and it was a fun, affordable thing for me to do. There was a completely untapped market of new collectors—some who lived there full time, though most didn’t. [The art scene] is great in L.A.—I think that’s been the case since I lived here in the ’90s. But now there are so many good artists here in L.A. who have representation all over the world but don’t have galleries here.”
Gavlak never toyed with the idea of opening a space in New York instead—“it’s not nearly affordable,” she said flatly—and most likely won’t in the future, either. “[Palm Beach and L.A.] are definitely it for a long, long, long time,” she said with un-Gagosian-like relief.
“Palm Beach will continue to run beautifully in the winter and we’ve taken on a lot of new artists in L.A., people who have similar ideas about art. I met a lot of these artists when I was part of the Women’s Action Coalition in L.A.—we were fighting the anti-choice movement. Judie Bamber—another artist I’ve added since I’ve moved out here—was one of them. We were involved in a lot of political, feminist action, and we were part of the same reading groups.” Gavlak paused. “There’s a nice synergy. It feels like a very natural place to start.”