The roster of New York’s P.P.O.W. is looking stronger than ever this year, with an acclaimed Martin Wong retrospective having come through the Bronx Museum, critical darling Betty Tompkins joining its slate, and a David Wojnarowicz retrospective at the Whitney on the horizon. Now the Chelsea gallery is moving forward with plans to expand.
This September, P.P.O.W. will take over a 2,000-square-foot space three floors above its current one, at 535 West 22nd Street. Previously held by Morgan Lehman Gallery, the new sixth-floor space will be down the hall from Julie Saul Gallery, and will perform triple duty—it will be used for projects and installations, act as a showroom, and be a place where visitors can research gallery artists.
“In the recent few years, in the space we’ve had, it became very hard to have room for staff, because we have extra staff now, and we have more and more meetings with curators and people doing research,” P.P.O.W. cofounder Wendy Olsoff said in a phone interview. “The opportunity arose because a gallery is moving out of the sixth floor, and we felt like, if we didn’t take it now, it would be a mistake.”
When P.P.O.W. opened in 1983, it was located in the East Village. The gallery moved to SoHo in 1988, and then to Chelsea to in 2002. Olsoff had looked into opening a space in the Lower East Side, but she ultimately decided against it after negotiations for one site fell through. “[T]here’s a feeling sometimes that some of our artists might get a better audience downtown,” Olsoff said, “but I think we’re in such a good place right here in Chelsea that, to go downtown, it didn’t make enough sense.”
With the expansion comes a new addition to the gallery’s staff—Trey Hollis, who will join P.P.O.W. as associate director. Hollis previously worked at New York’s Pavel Zoubok Gallery.
P.P.O.W.’s new space will open with a project by Katharine Kuharic, who will create a wall painting with images of every United States president. Kuharic will be in the gallery painting the work in front of visitors, and she will continue to craft the work as the election comes to a head in November. Olsoff is also planning to show films by Adam Putnam in the project space.
But Olsoff noted that there might not be a new project every month, and that the space will be flexible. Though it may not be a particularly large addition, the growth is major for a small gallery like P.P.O.W. “It’s not like opening a space in Hong Kong, but for us, it’s a big deal,” Olsoff said.