Since 1986, Franklin Parrasch has owned six New York galleries, and the one he currently helms is on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. This January, Parrasch will expand his reach to include the West Coast, where he and Christopher Heijnen will open a gallery in Los Angeles. Their new space, Parrasch Heijnen Gallery, will be located at 1326 South Boyle Avenue, a freestanding 5,000-square-foot downtown building that used to be the site of a dinette and lunchroom for Sears employees.
Parrasch found the space for his new gallery thanks to Heijnen, who has been handling Franklin Parrasch Gallery’s Los Angeles sales and circulation since 2012. (Heijnen also worked at the gallery between 2006 and 2010.) Once Heijnen mentioned to Parrasch that he wanted to open a gallery in downtown L.A., Parrasch flew out immediately. “He had a great deal of knowledge of real estate in that area and had been involved with several buildings, in terms of development of their spaces,” Parrasch said. A year-long search led them to their space, which will also have an outdoor sculpture garden and an area for parking.
Opening a gallery in Los Angeles was a logical next step for Parrasch, whose New York gallery shows a number of Californian artists who became famous during the ’60s and ’70s, alongside the rise of Minimalism in New York. The emphasis of Parrasch Heijnen, Parrasch explained, “is to show the influence the Los Angeles movements have had on the younger generations of artists. We’ll be focusing a lot on younger artists who have a connection in some concrete, aesthetic way to other artists of historical importance from Los Angeles, like Ken Price, Peter Alexander, and [John] McCracken.”
“Post–Mike Kelley,” he said, “a lot of things have happened that expanded the vocabulary of Los Angeles art. It’s been cyclical, and it’s been exciting, and it’s been historically fascinating. If you look at American culture, Los Angeles is a key critical point of growth and contribution.” Traveling to California for two decades has only reinforced this idea in Parrasch’s mind.
As Parrasch explained, Californian conceptual artist Michael Asher once called his New York gallery “Ken Price ‘R’ Us” because of its frequent shows of Price’s ceramic works. Fittingly, Parrasch Heijnen will open with an ambitious career survey of Price’s work. Sculptures that haven’t been shown since an important Price/Robert Irwin show at LACMA in 1968 will be on view, as well as others that Price considered to be landmark works in his career. “I think what we’re offering in the show is a vision of Ken Price’s entire career, what it means, what its aesthetic contribution is, and doing so with new material that can be reinterpreted,” Parrasch said. “The story of Ken Price is an incredibly complicated one. It’s often told and misinterpreted, and it’s one we’re now going to be addressing without the artist,” who died in 2012. “I think that’s actually going to allow for more candor.”
“What my gallery in New York has been about since the late ’80s is the impressions, the feelings that I’ve always found in Ken Price’s work, and I see it in others,” Parrasch continued. “What I wanted to do, specifically—and Chris has been with me long enough to share this vision—is to identify that feeling. That’s what the gallery will be focusing on.”
Parrasch made sure to note that Franklin Parrasch Gallery and Parrasch Heijnen are two “separate entities,” and that he will be dividing his time between them. He isn’t worried about doing business on both coasts simultaneously, though. “I’m going to be overextended,” he said. “That’s just the way I live. I don’t operate any other way—I need a lot of other distractions.”