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510 Warren Street Gallery

  • As any visual artist, writer or composer will tell you, time making art is time spent alone, in isolation. A painter or sculptor may share studio space and come together for group exhibitions, musicians might play in a group but the work of creating art is usually done in solitude.

    Most artists hope for the chance to share their work. However, the majority do not find themselves in the enviable position of being seen or recognized by the outside world, and bemoan the difficulties related to getting gallery representation where, if lucky, they might show a body of work every year or two.

    In 2010 a group of artists came together to address both of these issues. The main question then, and one that continues to be reframed now is; how can a group of artists with limited resources, with a desire to exhibit and little experience in management run a successful art gallery?

    It was the brainchild of Kate Knapp, an artist working and teaching in the Berkshires for 30+ years. She had participated in a coop gallery at her own Front Street Gallery in Housatonic, MA. She knew the joys and pitfalls of running a cooperative gallery. 510 Warren Street Gallery began with a conversation she had with one of her students who was lamenting the difficulty of finding a renter for a beautiful but vacant gallery space in a building she and her husband owned on artsy Warren Street in the heart of Hudson, New York. The storefront had an exceptional history as a movie theater, an antique shop and artsy café before becoming an art gallery. Warren Street was going through a renaissance and many galleries, antique shops, boutiques and restaurants were appearing along the mile-long main street running perpendicular to the Hudson River.

    The initial group of 14 got together in the late summer of 2010 to discuss how to proceed and the gallery opened on October 9, 2010. Could 14 artists, after a little more than one month of planning, work together to manage and run an art gallery? In addition to Kate’s experience one had been a member of a large, cooperative crafts gallery in New York City, and one had owned a gallery/frame shop in Great Barrington, however most were as green at starting a gallery as a new tube of Winsor Newton viridian oil paint. It soon became quite clear that the answer was “yes”! It, indeed, is possible. First order of business was a name. It seemed logical to call it 510 Warren Street Gallery. Then, how to define the responsibilities of running the business end of it from designing a logo, gallery sitting, managing the checkbook, taking notes, keeping the historical files, PR and website design and maintenance, all requiring sacrifices in time and energy.

    Most co-op galleries don’t make it. Members come and go. Membership fees rise and put a strain on the financial stability of the gallery. The need to replace members who choose to leave, along with personal and artistic decision making, agreements and disagreements are all potential areas of dissension.

    510 Warren Street Gallery, now almost 6 years old, has remained flexible in the face of challenges. Monthly fees have both risen and fallen as necessary. In the neo-natal stages of development, Kate Knapp, our spiritual guide and the glue that holds the gallery together, became the obvious choice of artistic director with responsibility for the overall feel and look of the gallery each month. She also calculated costs and expenses.

    The new entrepreneurs realized quickly that some of the jobs needed to be handled by professionals as they would rather devote more of their time to creating art. The gallery/sales manager, Sam Sebren, a talented artist, musician and radio talk show host was hired along with a professional bookkeeper. All members receive a door key and have the ability to open the gallery and volunteer their time any day the gallery manager is not on duty.

    In addition to featured artist exhibitions and receptions by members, the gallery hosts an Annual Invitational Show to give 4-5 non-member artists an opportunity to exhibit their work. In addition, the gallery donates a small section of wall space curated by the gallery manager each month to one artist from a nearby NY county bringing fresh faces and new energy to the gallery.

    Once a month there is a business meeting and the entire gallery is rehung, replacing the work that has sold and also giving each artist an opportunity to experiment with and curate their own space. This is perhaps the most valuable part of having an artist owned gallery. Unlike commercial galleries where a director has full creative control over what is on display, at 510 Warren Street Gallery each exhibiting member has the opportunity to experiment and push their creativity each month as wall space morphs and changes. Curating one’s own space opens creative doors and the communal benefits of group support make for interesting conversation as progress is made during installations.

    At present, the eight full share members and six half share members bring to the gallery a rich variety of artistic styles and mediums. Many members have come and gone. In addition to Kate Knapp and lending stability to the enterprise, three of the original group; painter, Nina Lipkowitz, photographer, John Lipkowitz, and painter/landlord, Hannah Mandel have been with the gallery from the beginning. Photography, collage, painting, digital and mixed media work hangs in comfortable synergy in a space that invites the viewer to linger and get more in touch with their personal preferences. As Hudson continues to become a magnet for artists and collectors, the 510 Warren Street Gallery remains anchored in the heartbeat of the city.

    Hudson NY 510 Warren St Gallery

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