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Signal Gallery, Hotbed for Vanguard Art in Brooklyn, Will Close

Installation view of “FlucT: Is It God or Am I Dog?,” 2018, at Signal, Brooklyn.

COURTESY SIGNAL

Signal gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, will come to an end with a farewell celebration dubbed “NO SIGNAL” on November 2, according to an email sent Friday morning. “Please consider bringing flowers,” the gallery wrote. Its last exhibition was “GDPR: Group Display of Paintings & Renderings,” a show that featured works by Sedrick Chisom, Alex Gardner, Haley Josephs, Kristina Lee, Paul Anthony Smith, and Margaux Valengin, which closed on August 5.

Reached by phone, Kyle Clairmont Jacques, who cofounded the gallery with Alexander Johns and McKenzie Ursch, said that Signal’s closure was partly spurred on by the need for emerging galleries to professionalize today. “We thought it would honestly be funny and interesting to have a place that had nothing to do with economics in this city,” Clairmont Jacques said. “Like most good things in life, if we’d understood what it was going to take to do it, we never would’ve been stupid enough to jump into the pit.”

Few other galleries in Brooklyn in recent years have had as much visibility as Signal, which made itself a destination in a neighborhood that was at one point considered far-flung from the city’s gallery districts. It staged solo shows for some of New York’s most important emerging artists, among them Meriem Bennani, Madeline Hollander, Jordan Kasey, Rachel Rossin, Fin Simonetti, and the duo FlucT, and gave Aidan Koch, Sophie Hirsch, and more some of their first major presentations in the city.

Clairmont Jacques said that Signal was founded with a one-year plan, and that the artists’ success caused the gallery to look into expanding its operations. “We did more art fairs, we threw some more money into production, I spent a lot more time creating PDFs and knowing the right people,” he explained. “And then we just hit a wall, where we were like, ‘Hey, if we’re going to do this in this way, we have to change the equation.’ It would make sense to get a space in [Manhattan] and have a roster of artists that we represent, and to be open five days a week. I should be spending less time doing exhibitions and more time at events talking to collectors. We realized that, when faced with the opportunity to ‘scale up’ and professionalize, that actually had very little to do with why we started in the first place.”

Founded in 2012, Signal, which was a live-in space for its owners, opened in an industrial space that was formerly used for storing rugs. “Four or five years ago, everything around here felt slapdash,” Clairmont Jacques told the New York Times’s T Magazine in 2015 of the neighborhood. “Sometime during our search for a space, it became very clear that we could present things in this area at a level that was more professional and respectful.”

In the six years since the gallery opened, Signal was a regular at the NADA New York art fair, and it hosted the Bushwick Art Book and Zine Fair several times.

Signal’s closure follows the closing of other Brooklyn stalwart, like Real Fine Arts, which closed in April, and Cleopatra’s, which ended its run in May. The closure also comes amid a wave of mid-size galleries shuttering around the world, owing to factors including rising rents, declining foot traffic, and increased pressure to participate in art fairs.

But Clairmont Jacques said that neither these factors nor planned construction work that will close down the L train line that connects Bushwick and Manhattan contributed to Signal’s closure. “It really was just that we thought this project was complete for us,” he said.

The gallery has put out a call for images and videos related to the space and its exhibitions; visitors can email them to signal@emailitin.com, and their mementos will be added to a digital archive.

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