Broadway 1602, the gallery that was a pioneer in the Flower District when it opened on West 28th Street and Broadway in 2005, is now once again opening a space in an on-the-rise neighborhood: Harlem. In May, it will open in a former fire station and the abutting warehouse at 211 and 213 East 121st Street, which will act as a complementary space to its smaller salon-style gallery that’s opening on the Upper East Side, some 60 blocks south.
Reached over the phone, founder Anke Kempkes said she’s been looking for spaces in the area, and acknowledged that it’s an exciting time to be in the top part of Manhattan, what with Gavin Brown and Elizabeth Dee opening spaces in Harlem this spring.
“I’ve always been a pioneer—I was the first gallery in the Flower District when nobody else was there,” Kempkes said. “So now we’re a pioneer in the neighborhood again. Maybe it’s my European background, where we don’t have these gallery neighborhoods, we have destination galleries.”
The Harlem space will be based in a firehouse built in 1903, and is tricked out with a gigantic freight elevator—Kempkes said it was used to carry the station’s horses. The space is big enough to house sprawling, more experimental shows—Broadway 1602’s program is focused on women and avant-garde artists from the 1960s and 1970s—and there is also a terrace atop the warehouse space.
Kempkes has also invited Tel Aviv gallery Tempo Rubato and Zurich gallery Freymond-Guth to show within the compound.
“We’ll have a real collaborative sense in the building,” Kempkes said. “We even have this concept where we can swap spaces for specific projects.”
With Gavin Brown’s Enterprise and Elizabeth Dee Gallery opening nearby, there’s now officially a Harlem scene, and Kempkes said that she’s heard of other dealers looking to move or open additional spaces in the neighborhood as well.
“With our project, this will surely attract galleries to look in the neighborhood, particularly East Harlem, because it’s a little more industrial, and there’s a close hop to the Upper East Side where the collectors live and where the galleries are,” she said, adding that she hopes the new tenants won’t be simply considered signs of gentrification.
The space will be inaugurated with a show of large-scale early installations by George Segal that will be presented alongside the work of women artists who were his peers in the 1960s.