Downtown Manhattan has lost an art gallery. Gavin Brown’s Enterprise has closed the branch it opened in the Lower East Side/Chinatown area in late 2014, writing in an email bearing the news, “We will miss the space and our neighbors.” The final show at the spot was a rollicking Brian Belott outing that ended in mid-January.
Located on the third floor of 291 Grand Street, up long flights of stairs, GBE’s downtown spot was a reliable and wonderfully eclectic venue for adventurous art. Jacolby Satterwhite screened a delirious, erotic dance video and staged a concept store; Steven Pippin presented a crazy computerized contraption that balanced a pencil on its tip; Bjarne Melgaard and Bjørn showcased a jewelry line with the help of small pigs;; Martin Creed filled half the room’s volume with bright red balloons; and, in the weeks following the 2016 presidential election, Rob Pruitt hung scores of paintings he made of President Barack Obama.
One moment Alex Katz was offering vintage cut-out paintings, and the next the Women’s History Museum was displaying clothes and sculptures and quite a bit more. The gallery was, in short, a space of wonderful, unexpected juxtapositions. (Though its run was quite male-heavy, it has to be said.)
With the closure of 291 Grand, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise now has two permanent locations—its main base of operations on West 127th Street in Harlem and an outpost in Rome, Italy, in a deconsecrated church. (There’s also Unclebrother, Brown’s restaurant/gallery in upstate Hancock, New York, a joint venture with Rirkrit Tiravanija where the curry is always free.)
The question now is who will next occupy the third floor of 291 Grand. With 47 Canal, Nathalie Karg, and James Cohan also in the same building, and outfits like David Lewis, Company, and Miguel Abreu a stone’s throw away, it is certainly prime real estate.