Thursday, July 9, 2009

On Opening New Gallery Spaces

The folks at Slingluff Gallery are vying to be experts on this topic. One year after unveiling Studio 27.28 on West Girard, they're now opening Slingluff Gallery in the Fishtown area. I had the chance to ask a few questions, and to my surprise, they responded!

Jong Kim: So can we get some more information about your move to Fishtown?
Leigh Slingluff: We're keeping it real and staying on Girard. 11 W. Girard between Johny Brendas and the M Room, changing our name from Studio 27.28 to The Slingluff Gallery, and extending our hours.

JK: Wasn't it only last year that you opened the space on Girard?
John Slingluff: Why, yes it was. We opened our doors with our first opening on June 7th, [2008].

JK: What factors influenced you on moving the new space in Fishtown?
LS: A totally revamped place definitely helped, and more support through the community. I hope to find a new place to buy 40's.
JS: First off I get confused whether or not this section of Philadelphia is Fishtown or not. According to a map of Philadelphia from 1854, it says that it is a part of the Kensington District but to be more clear, the move is based off of not only the support of the community but also walk-in traffic. A need for art, a level of art, and the appreciation of art required to run a gallery. All of these must be and should be taken into factor. When we moved to 2728 Girard, our eyes were bigger than our stomach as the saying goes. We accomplished what we set out to do and we're both very happy about it and wouldn't change a thing. But with the artists that we're getting, we need more than just a great turn out for art openings, we need foot traffic.

JK: So far your gallery space seems to have been defined by the artists you exhibit. That is to say~ each artist seems very different from the last, and a connection is hard to find (although I must note in fairness, that I have yet to see any of the exhibitions in person). Do you think there is a connection, or in other words, that there is a specific niche of artist your gallery is looking for? What would you define your niche to be, or is it even necessary at all to have one?
LS: As for a niche, we didn't want to be defined as a gallery that shows only a specific type of art. We show art that we believe in, artists that we believe in and it all stems from that way of thinking. Sometimes we do have some trends which vary from month to month. We had a skateboard show in Oct of 08, a lot of those artists were older skateboarders from the west coast like Christian Hosio, and Douglas Miles owner of Apache Skateboards. The trend of west coast and skateboarders continue, but we also like to show Philly locals.
Neither of us think it's necessary for our gallery to have a niche. Some benefit from it, but we like to keep it fresh, new, and exciting.

The move is a good one. I've heard that Philly_art operates in cliques, but I think it may be more geological than social. As a city of neighborhoods, where you live or work seems to define where you go. Or, if you follow a gallery, you probably happen across ones that are near it. Moving away from the Zoo area, where nothing I know of exists, and into Fishtown is probably a smart move.
But without a niche, my immediate response is that they've set themselves up for a challenge. Knowing that, for example, Fleisher/Ollman focuses on self-taught art lets me know what to expect from their exhibitions, and helps them direct their programming and/or collecting. Without that niche, a gallery is relying solely on the reputation of the artist. But what's drawn my interest to this gallery is their productivity over their first year~ I've counted seven or eight shows in that span. With that kind of fervor, I'm sure they can accomplish what they would like.

Good luck to them in their new home! Anyone care to recommend a good spot in Fishtown for 40s?

1 comment:

AC said...

good interview, guys. sounds like you are in a more desirable part of town as well. good for you!