This May the artist, actor, and downtown don Leo Fitzpatrick joined Marlborough Chelsea as a director. Fitzpatrick will sell art and curate shows in his own distinctive style in pop-up spaces within the 25th Street gallery.
The news follows the January announcement that Fitzpatrick would close his tiny project space at 208 Forsyth Street, Home Alone 2, which he cofounded with Nate Lowman and Hanna Liden in 2012. Home Alone went through various iterations and addresses but always staged shows of artists from Lowman and Liden’s generation, like Josh Smith, Adam McEwen, and Klara Liden, albeit on a very small scale.
At Marlborough Chelsea, Fitzpatrick will continue in that vein, staging small shows in various spaces throughout the two-story gallery, though under a new name: Viewing Room. The first show opens in September.
“Home Alone started over a beer,” Fitzpatrick said in an interview at Marlborough Chelsea, with its director Pascal Spengemann and owner Max Levai. Fitzpatrick and Lowman were having a discussion about how they never saw enough of the art that they wanted to see. Soon they had a “community garden” of a space for their friends.
“I’m very proud of what I was able to accomplish with Home Alone over those three years, but generally it was me taking art on the subway, trying to put on these shows,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m really excited about having help, and people to bounce ideas off of. We can really do big things. If I was able to do so much with so little, imagine what I can do here.”
Spengemann, for his part, sees Fitzpatrick’s joining Marlborough as adding a new dimension to the gallery, one that looks to new business models for the art world.
“We’ve seen the development of nonrepresentation models,” Spengemann said, “all kinds of looser affiliations, artists having multiple venues—”
“The value we brought as a gallery at Home Alone,” Fitzpatrick jumped in, “was giving artists an opportunity to experiment, maybe to try things they wouldn’t think of in a traditional setting. Because we had no expectations, really great things would happen.”
Fitzpatrick entered the art world at age 14 with his staring role in Larry Clark’s 1995 film Kids. He started collecting not long after that, buying his first painting, a Chris Johanson, at age 17. Soon he was organizing shows at the downtown art-and-skater bar Max Fish, low-key affairs that would still have people like Ryan McGinley apparently asking him, “Hey man, why didn’t you include me?”
Fitzpatrick came to Spengemann in January, because he figured the veteran director would have advice about what to do after closing one’s gallery. Spengemann and Levai were soon discussing the prospect of bringing Fitzpatrick to Chelsea.
Levai said he wanted Fitzpatrick’s Viewing Room programming in Chelsea because having it at the gallery’s Lower East Side space would be “too expected.”
“Because it’s experimental, egos can be put aside, and it doesn’t matter whose idea it was,” Levai said, “so long as the idea works.” Asked if he’d be coming into the gallery every day like a “proper director,” Fitzpatrick laughed and said he would. Asked if it would be weird going from being a downtown guy doing fun, low-key shows to having to hustle and sell the way everyone else does in Chelsea, Fitzpatrick balked but said he was nothing but excited at the prospect.
“Because these people are my friends, I really want it to work out, I want the pieces to go in the right homes. It’s like setting two of your friends up on a blind date,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s like organizing the perfect threesome.”
A version of this story originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 36 under the title “All Grown Up Now.”