Gallery 19, a 600-square-foot modernist art space in Ravenswood, celebrated its one-year anniversary with its seventh show of the season on March 14. The show featured work by artists Patrick Manning, Jennifer Murray and Nicole White. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the science of opening a gallery show.
Gallery 19 owner Tommy Reyes (right) and his husband Doug Reyes (left) prepare for the gallery’s first anniversary show on March 14. The show, which featured work by artists Patrick Manning, Jennifer Murray and Nicole White, was the gallery’s seventh show of the year.
Doug installs a wire tracking system on one of the gallery’s walls a few days before the show’s opening. The Ravenswood gallery features three artists — two mid-level and one emerging — every six weeks or so, each on a separate wall. The 600-square-foot modernist gallery follows the 1950s Clement Greenberg definition of modernism: “The essence of Modernism lies, as I see it, in the use of characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize the discipline itself, not in order to subvert it but in order to entrench it more firmly in its area of competence.”
Tommy and Doug, both artists, examine a line up of Jennifer Murray’s series “Home”, trying to determine an order for the seven pieces. “I try to make sure there’s something for everyone,” Tommy says. “People are intimidated by galleries. With a gallery at this level, you really have to believe in the gallerists taste.” Doug specializes in ceramics while Tommy works mainly with photography.
Doug hangs the first of Murray’s “Home” series on the newly installed tracking system. Murray primarily photographs interiors, and what she calls “the imperfect details” of a space. “I’m interested in the way that we project the home as this place of perfection to prepare when we have guests coming over,” Murray says, “but nothing gets rid of that lived-in quality.”
Tommy and Doug make sure Murray’s work is level and at a standard gallery height of 60 inches at the middle of the piece. “It’s both an art and a science,” Doug says. “There are the technicalities of hanging the work, but then there’s an art to making it look good.”
Tommy and Doug unwrap and prepare to hang Nicole White’s piece “A Thousand Plateaus.” As the show’s emerging artist, White has one piece featured in the show, which they are displaying on the back wall of the gallery. “My work is primarily about how we see and understand photographs,” White says. “My work always takes a different form. Continuity is not a thing.”
Tommy puts out the gallery’s sign the day of the anniversary show on March 14. He typically sells two or three pieces from each show. “You buy art because you love it,” he says. “Art purchasing at this level is very personal, and if you can connect with that artist, it’s even better.”
Tommy and featured artist Patrick Manning (left) play the waiting game the day of the show after opening the gallery a few minutes early. Manning, a photography professor at the University of New Mexico, has been featured in galleries across the U.S. and internationally in China and Guatemala. His featured series “Grim Sleeper,” is based on the Los Angeles serial killer responsible for at least 10 murders in the area between 1985 and 2007. “This series comes out of a long interest in looking at how photographs exert power,” Manning says. “I’m interested in the relationship between photography and violence, and issues of power and race.”
A gallery viewer checks out Manning’s “Grim Sleeper” series. The oversized works range from $2,500 to $4,000.
Manning discusses his work with a gallery goer at the show’s opening. “All galleries have different cultures,” Manning says. “If you have a lot of work in a show, there’s usually more focus on you. You usually only end up talking more about your work if you’re the featured person.”