In the spring we caught wind of a major building purchase by Red Hook artist Dustin Yellin, who bought a block-long, 24,000-square-foot warehouse dating back to the late-19th century on Pioneer Street at Imlay Street, just down the block from his current studio and the gallery he co-owns, Kidd Yellin. At the time Yellin mentioned plans for a major art center, and only nine months later the former Time Moving and Storage building is almost ready for its new life.
The future art center, which Yellin has provisionally dubbed Pioneer and King for the streets at either end of the long, 100-windowed brick building, will already be housing several artists’ studios by the end of the month, the Times learned during a recent visit. Yellin says that he eventually hopes to turn over running the art center to someone else:
Ultimately I want to find an investor to buy the building from me and turn it into a nonprofit. […] But only after I form an advisory board and help put the vision in place.
The Times piece seizes the opportunity to take a sobering look at the state of non-profit art spaces in the city, noting that the Chelsea Art Museum finally closed up shop for good on West 22nd Street on January 1st. Worse still, Exit Art—formerly of Soho but now based in an expansive ground-floor space in Hell’s Kitchen—will close after three decades in June following the death of co-founder Jeanette Ingberman in August of last year.
Yellin seems happily undeterred, noting Red Hook’s relative insulation from gentrification due to its inaccessibility. Between the cost of the building, $3.7 million, and renovations to its structure and the adjoining courtyard that could reach $2 million, the project’s ambition is all the more striking for the speed of its execution—a soft-opening is planned for January 28. In the meantime Yellin and other artists have begun moving their studios into the space, and he and Allison Weisberg of the Soho arts space Recess Activities—which runs a residency program at Kidd Yellin—have begun submitting grants proposals and seeking funding for programming at the forthcoming art center.
Follow Benjamin Sutton on Twitter @LMagArt