Over the past 18 years, Philadelpia’s Space 1026 has fostered a crucial community within its city and exhibited work from an impressive list of local and out-of-town artists, including everyone from Cory Arcangel’s collective BEIGE to Barry McGee and Clare Rojas. Space 1026 has provided studios for local artists and hosted music events for everyone from Daniel Johnston to Lightning Bolt. In some ways, the history of the gallery is the history of a certain strain of 2000s-era subcultural art. That history is celebrated tonight with a sprawling group show.
“We did a five-year show and a ten-year show and because things get weirder every time we forgot to do a 15-year show,” one of Space 1026’s founders, the artist and comedian Andrew Jeffrey Wright, told me over the phone today. Someone suggested that since 18 obviously comes with its own significance, they throw a show. “It’s a mile-marker,” Wright continued.
Arranged in the kind of clusters that have been a hallmark of many of the artists who have shown at Space 1026 in the past, one wall of the exhibition features promotional posters for past Space 1026 events, including hand-painted posters from Forcefield member Mat Brinkman and works from Shepard Fairey and Ed Templeton. Another wall contains work from Space 1026 members past and present, including Jayson Musson and Wright himself.
“It feels weird because when Space 1026 was two years old, I was a co-curator of a show in Philadelphia at the Painted Bride art center”—which had just turned 20—Wright said. “I was like, ‘That is insane, why would you do something for 20 years,'” he joked. “And now we’re just two years away from 20.”
Despite its longevity, Space 1026 has never become an official nonprofit. It is primarily funded by artists who pay rent on studios, along with art auctions fueled by donations. Wright stated that over the years, the space has been “organized enough to survive but never organized to be like, ‘That’s just an institution, that’s not fun.'” With the passing of years, many spaces lose some magic; Space 1026 has stayed enduringly scrappy while maintaining functionality.
“It’s a good feeling, because I’m still someone who needs the space as a way to create art and do projects,” Wright explained. “We’re gonna exist until we can no longer function.”
The show runs from November 6–28, with an opening reception tonight at 7:00 p.m.