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Pierogi’s Founding Director On the Williamsburg Gallery’s Move to Manhattan

The facade of Pierogi's current Williamsburg space. COURTESY PIEROGI

The facade of Pierogi’s current Williamsburg space.

COURTESY PIEROGI

Pierogi, the Brooklyn gallery that has been in Williamsburg for 21 years, will relocate to the Lower East Side in February. As reported in The New York Times last week, the gallery’s new address will be 155 Suffolk Street, putting Pierogi on the same block as JTT and Rachel Uffner. Pierogi’s satellite location, The Boiler, will remain open in Williamsburg, on North 14th Street.

“There’s a lot of good, smaller galleries in Williamsburg, but you know, it’s been a long time that Williamsburg has been on the map,” Joe Amrhein, Pierogi’s founding director, explained in a phone conversation. “We’ve been talking about moving for about a year or so. Moving into other neighborhoods in Brooklyn seemed to be more of a lateral move. It was an interesting idea to move into Bushwick, but I don’t even know where to go anymore. The Lower East Side seemed to have more of a dynamic critical mass and more critical attention.”

Amrhein noted that The Boiler, the cavernous space located just eight blocks north of Pierogi’s current Williamsburg space, is in what he called “the new hotel district.” And it was partially thanks to Williamsburg’s rabid gentrification that Amrhein decided it was time for a change. “They’re building out there like crazy,” he said. “The prices are a little crazy right now in Williamsburg, even more so, I think, than the Lower East Side. They’re similar anyway, so why not be there?”

But Amrhein’s attitude as he prepares to switch boroughs wasn’t entirely mournful. He described all sorts of “new possibilities,” thanks to increased visibility for the gallery’s artists and more critical attention. “You put shows together for 21 years, and you get used to the space you’re showing in, so it’s kind of nice to have a new space to do shows in,” he said.

As Pierogi readies the final two exhibitions in its North 9th Street space, of new work by John Phillip Abbott and Michael Ballou, Amrhein is starting to think about the opening show at the Suffolk Street location. He knows it will be some kind of group show, but, he said, “we’re so busy spackling walls that I’m not sure what the first show will be yet. It’s just going to be a party kind of opening show that’ll be open through Armory time, so we want to start with a big atmosphere of inclusiveness and go from there.”

With one foot in the Lower East Side and another in Williamsburg, Amrhein will now have to divide his time between two boroughs, but he hardly seemed worried about it. “It’s funny that it’s only a few miles from our old space,” he said, “but psychologically, it seems 90 miles away for some people. But I’ll be riding a bike a lot more than I used to. That’s for sure.”

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