INSIDE TCHOTCHKE GALLERY’S SUDDEN CLOSURE
What’s that famous Ferris Bueller quote? “The art world moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.” Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what he said.
Last week, the New York art scene suffered another loss of an exciting new space: Tchotchke Gallery, which was founded by Marlee Katz and Danielle Dewar in 2020 as an online venture and eventually became an IRL space in Williamsburg that mounted a slate of buzzy, colorful painting shows by artists such as Josiah Ellner, Rachael Tarravechia, Debora Koo, and Elena Redmond, among others, has closed its doors.
All was going swimmingly—until it wasn’t.
“I am no longer part of or associated with Tchotchke Gallery,” Tarravechia wrote on her blog. “Though this door has closed, I am excited to put my heart back where it belongs—in paint.” Oddly, the announcement came while her own solo show was still hung up in the gallery. Other artists connected to the gallery started posting publicly on their Instagram accounts that they’d no longer be working with the gallery this week.
It seems the gallery’s unraveling came down to interpersonal conflicts between the founders, which is of course a story those clued into the gallery circuit have heard many times before.
“I heard from Danielle and she let me know they had been seriously arguing and the gallery would be dissolving,” one artist who asked to stay anonymous told Wet Paint. “It had been going on a few months at least and that was pretty obvious just from trying to interact with them.”
Partnerships between gallerists can often lead to an explosive dynamic that leads to the dissolution of consolidated programming—remember last year when Robert Dimin and Elizabeth Denny consciously uncoupled Denny Dimin Gallery, citing irreconcilable differences? Or, of course, more recently, LGDR becoming simply… LGD?
But it gets even stickier in the case of Tchotchke. (Artnet has worked with Tchotchke Gallery in the past.)
“We’re in the middle of trying to amicably part ways,” Katz told Wet Paint. “It’s a situation that isn’t resolved yet, and it’s a legal situation…It’s a really icky thing that happened.”
The “icky thing” Katz is referring to is her allegation that Dewar commandeered the gallery’s Instagram account as Tarravechia’s show was opening, leaving the artist and the gallery high-and-dry, unable to promote the show. “The greatest disservice was to [Tarravechia],” Katz said. She didn’t have an easy answer for why she thought Dewar took over their socials.
“The biggest shame of this situation is that Rachel’s show couldn’t be promoted,” she added. Katz told Tarravechia that the show couldn’t be featured on the customary channels, and the two decided to deinstall her show with the goal of re-hanging it at a later date, with another space. “This has been really devastating and challenging,” Katz said.
Dewar did not respond to requests for comment.
KARMA HEADS WEST ONCE MORE
“Grow or go” is one of the art industry’s most frequently invoked adages, and for good reason. The most successful galleries are those that continually expand, cast their vision far into the future, and press forward with relentless determination, much like sharks—if they don’t move forward, they die. Brendan Dugan, the founder of Karma, has taken the adage to heart.
Wet Paint has learned that Karma, the East Village institution that recently established a presence in Los Angeles and has a penchant for experimental expansion, having opened temporary shops in South Korea and Maine, is now in the process of adding another gallery to its portfolio in New York. It’s actively scouting for a suitable location in the Chelsea neighborhood.
That Karma is opening up a new space isn’t necessarily surprising (Dugan didn’t elaborate on the expansion, but did confirm that he’s keeping both of his spaces on 2nd Street), but what is a little eyebrow-raising is the decision to look to Chelsea. The classic gallery neighborhood has seen the exodus of many of its star tenants as Tribeca has become the go-to neighborhood, and of course, even neighborhood stalwart David Zwirner backpedaled on a plan for expansion over there.
But, while Dugan didn’t provide details on the decision to hang a shingle in Chelsea, given his track record for savvy business moves and prescient taste in emerging artists, I’m inclined to think there’s a method to the madness. Let’s see what happens.
There is a small (but mighty) group of galleries fighting over who gets to take over JTT’s lease… kauffman repetto is on the hunt for a new director, and offering a decently chunky salary for it… Sarah Levine has left Lehmann Maupin to become a senior director at Pace Gallery… Tip from Sam… Off Paradise has taken on representation of Peter Nadin… Your friend and dedicated columnist is throwing a party next week at the buzzy nightclub Jean’s for Armory Week, and you’re invited …
Publicist Bettina Prentice sure had some choice words for my colleague Katya Kazakina and her column on the collection of the late Thomas H. Lee *** Miyako Bellizzi, Chloe Wise, and Aria Dean out late at O’Flaherty’s to celebrate Billy Grant’s birthday *** Serena Williams hanging out with up-and-coming gallerist Cierra Britton at Soho House *** Jordan Wolfson seems to have started up his Raya account again *** Jonah Freeman, Arden Wohl, Francesco Clemente, Rashid Johnson, and Lucien Smith at The Surf Lodge celebrating Joel Mesler’s new painting on the premises ***