Introducing ‘Vacation,’ the New York Gallery Timeshare That’s Signed Up a Dozen Global Dealers
The project joins other new art-fair alternatives, like Condo and Ruberta.
Rising rents, narrow margins, and a demanding art fair schedule are forcing small and mid-size galleries to get creative. Some are pooling resources to find new ways to exchange spaces, spawning initiatives like Condo, ProyectosLA, Ruberta, and Okey Dokey.
Now, New York’s Lower East Side will house another such venture. Modeled on a timeshare, Vacation will see 10 galleries from around the world sublease the storefront gallery at 24A Orchard Street, formerly occupied by Joe Sheftel Gallery, for a month at a time. Initiated by two co-founders of San Francisco gallery R/SF Projects—Lauren Licata and Anička Vrána-Godwin—Vacation falls, as Licata put it to artnet News, “somewhere between a brick-and-mortar gallery and a four-day art fair.”
After the debut group show, “Of Fictive Inventions,” organized by R/SF and open through March 3, Chicago’s Andrew Rafacz will be the first tenant, taking up residence March 8, during Armory Week. He’ll be followed by Clima Gallery from Milan, Mobius Gallery from Bucharest, and Gildar Gallery from Denver.
“I’ve done so many art fairs where I respect and maybe even have a relationship with the galleries on either side of me, but we end up exchanging 10 words in the week,” Rafacz told artnet News, “so the appeal is the ability to stretch out and do something longer and more like an exhibition.”
Rafacz will show work by Samantha Bittman, Caroline Wells Chandler, and Wendy White in the main space, and Robert Burnier in a storefront window. He’ll stay at a nearby apartment he found on Airbnb; this will be the longest stretch of time he’s ever spent in New York.
Participating galleries are getting the space at cost, according to Licata. The R/SF founders renovated the venue themselves, and, she says, will happily help with gallery-sitting and other incidental needs. Vacation doesn’t take a commission but will operate a mezzanine-level showroom space, where R/SF and other international galleries will get a toehold in Gotham.
The participating galleries grew out of a network that had already formed. Licata and her colleagues kept their eye on galleries that have participated in art fairs, she said, who are already familiar with the logistics required for international presentations. Licata and Vrána-Godwin both worked in other galleries before meeting in graduate school at the San Francisco Art Institute.
“We certainly don’t take an anti-art fair stance,” Licata said. “It’s more that we need an alternative, and this is just one more new model.” As apps and online platforms promise to sell artists’ work directly to collectors without the gallery middleman, she said, “we think that the best way to support artists is to support the galleries that support them.”
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