Galleries Struggle to Recover in the Wake of Sandy

11.09.12 Lily Streeter

Last week, we reported on the damage at various art galleries in Chelsea and Brooklyn. Since then, the race to restoration has progressed disproportionately in favor in the wealthier, more established Chelsea scene.

Assessing the damage, Magda Sawon of Postmasters told Hyperallergic last week, “My personal opinion is that this will hit smaller galleries much harder than the mega operations and will further contribute to polarizing the art scene.” She was right. Postmaster’s did not lose power but did suffer a flooded basement and a close call. Sawon tells GalleristNY, “We didn’t get hit the way other people did, so it’s almost kind of a guilt level that gets you.”

International gallerist David Zwirner explained to the Daily Beast how he was one of the lucky few to have purchased flood insurance before the Sandy fiasco. His location on west 19th street will reopen today, with a reception for L.A. Artist Dana Thater’s video installation strangely entitled “Chernobyl”.

Over in Brooklyn, art venues in Gowanus and DUMBO did not fare as well. After spending 48 hours barricading the Gowanus ballroom with 6,000 pounds of steel, owner Josh Young watched as “the whole roll gate just collapsed and a 20-foot wave of water came across the ballroom. There were welders flying and tables flipping over.” Executive director Robert Elmes, described the situation as being equally grave over at the DUMBO-situated Galapagos Performance space. “We found seaweed under the stage,” he said. “The water was everywhere.”

The damage in Greenpoint was substantial, especially for those who did not have insurance. Artists were forced to abandon their studios.

The good news, however, is that struggling galleries and art spaces will not be completely left to their own devices. The Art Dealers Association of America, has formed an aid program to lend a hand by providing grants and loans to galleries located in Zone A.

(Image: Galapagos Art Space via ArtInfo)