Several streets in New York City‘s Lower East Side neighborhood count handfuls of art galleries as occupants. Across decades, the community here—born of non-conformity—has witnessed its statements surpass those of other art movements and locations with the city. With all of this in mind, Lesley Heller of Lesley Heller Gallery and Bart Keijsers Koning of LMAK Gallery realized it’s time to get people into these galleries—to get them to understand what the LES stands for today. Together they’ve produced the first-ever Lower East Side (LES) Art Week, commencing now. 24 galleries have joined forces, with shows that focus on women artists, either solo or in group exhibitions.
An optional, hour-long audio tour has been developed to weave through these spaces and provide insight on the gallerists, shows and artists—as well as the architecture of the building housing Perrotin New York. It was developed by David Behringer, founder of The Two Percent, an organization dedicated to uncovering and sharing the most interesting artwork and exhibits. With this tour, Behringer highlights eight of the 24 galleries, and his efforts succeed in providing insight and making everything feel more accessible.
“We approached 24 galleries within walking distance,” Heller explains. “We wanted to make it very easy and line the experience up like an art fair. It’s one of the few neighborhoods where you can still go from gallery to gallery on foot.” She also notes the diversity of work and the variance between established and emerging artists. “You can be a starter collector, or come in at a high level,” she adds. “There’s a lot going on here.” Heller locked down sponsorship from Essex Crossing in the midst of two years developing this concept.
“You have to experience art in person—and be overwhelmed by it. As dealers, we all work in this career because we love working with artists and we love working with art and feeling art and we want to share that,” she concludes. And in a neighborhood of galleries that initially sprung up outside of and in opposition to the established Chelsea scene, it’s worth seeing what they have to say today.
Lower East Side Art Week runs from 17-21 October.