Williamsburg’s Newest Art Gallery is Like a Bloody Mary

10/12/2012 11:23 AM |

Installation view of Harvey at 109.
  • Installation view of “Harvey” at 109.

When Ryan Krause was in college studying literature and classical music, opening up an art gallery was far from his concerns. Within just a few years, things have changed for Krause, an avid and committed gallerist, who opened up 109, Williamsburg’s newest art gallery this September. The gallery looks promising (Tess Rafael’s smudged and stained painting A Luminous Report would look right at home at NADA), but what we really want to know, is what prompted Krause to open up an art gallery in Williamsburg and in this economy. Chelsea, the LES and Bushwick are all bigger gallery districts, and little galleries don’t exactly have it easy in NYC. So we called him up and asked.

“Williamsburg is halfway between Bushwick and Chelsea,” Krause told us “…Bushwick is nice, but you’re not going to get as many people going out there.” If these words sound like the words of a first time gallerist, that’s because he is. But perhaps he’ll be able to lure the few collectors who head out to Bushwick out to his space along the way.

He lived in South Williamsburg while an undergrad, but then, in his early twenties, headed out to Boston to continue his studies in contemporary classical music. While there, he ended up working at a gallery, though he wanted find a reason to come back to the city. He didn’t plan on opening a gallery, but he was in luck when a friend told him about a Williamsburg gallery that was shuttering its doors.

The owners of K & K, a photography gallery, wanted to find “someone who would do something with the space” rather than turning over the lease to the building’s landlord. Like most rentals in New York, word of mouth is still an easy way to find a lease in the city. Krause lives and works at 109; his apartment is tucked away behind the gallery space. That’s a New York tradition, of living and working in the same space: Kerry Schuss did this at his old space in Tribeca, so did Williamsburg’s The Hogar Collection, and Postmasters continues to do so.

Like the gallery, most of Krause’s artists were found through word of mouth, too. The artists are friends of friends, and that seems to be the way he seeks out other art world types, from collectors to other exhibitors. In the spring, Krause plans to promote the gallery’s artists at the fairs.

For now, the gallery’s biggest concerns are about growing a community. He enjoys entertaining, and said that he wants 109’s exhibitions and events to help “people to come and enjoy themselves.” The name for 109’s first exhibition, Harvey, comes from a forgotten cocktail; an unsurprising choice of topic from someone who, in his own words, thinks of running a gallery as being like a “good Bloody Mary”. Um, what?

A good drink, he told us, needs to “keep the balance” between ingredients, but like with an exhibition, you get a “new quality greater than the sum of its parts.”

“You know, you add asparagus, soy sauce…like when you have one abstract painting, you might need a figurative one, too; once you take something away you have to add to it.”

The gallery’s first exhibition, Harvey, closes on October 26th, with events planned throughout, including a conversation with the artists on Monday, October 15, at 9 PM.

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