It seemed somewhat all of a sudden that the 1717 Troutman warehouse transitioned from a studio building frequently abustle with the traffickings of a half dozen or so exhibition spaces, to one entirely devoid of gallery activities. This happened last summer, of course, so it’s old news by now. Since then, Regina Rex has set up shop on the Lower East Side. Harbor joined them over there by conjoining with them—indeed, within them. Parallel went perpendicular, so to speak, and folded with sighs of well-deserved pride. Ortega y Gasset Projects and Underdonk are up to something, somewhere, probably. And what ever became of Bull & Ram, by the by?
Anyway, there now seems to be some poetic justice in the relative suddenness with which a new cluster of galleries has sprung up in the Bushwick/Ridgewood scene—at 1329 Willoughby, just a few blocks from the Jefferson L stop. Microscope Gallery, previously housed in a smallish spot on the other end of Bushwick, moved into a much bigger space in the Willoughby building last fall—in something of a self-mandated frenzy, let’s say, eager to spatially expand while breathing more freely with a longer lease. Around the same time, a big swath of square footage one door over was being prepped for conversion into a minor maze of exhibition and studio spaces that would eventually house TSA Gallery—migrating from a studio building across the Flushing divide—and a new art space called Transmitter. The latter, a collective undertaking by Rob de Oude, Carl Gunhouse, Sarah Jones, Rod Malin, Tom Marquet and Mel Prest, employs a cyclical curatorial platform kindred to TSA’s, by which founding members will take turns producing shows individually, by and large, with occasional collaborations. It’s rather fitting, then, that TSA and Transmitter are separated only by an internal wall with a doorless conduit leading from one space to the other.
Earlier this month, way back on the 9th of January, all three Willoughby spaces held opening receptions. Visitors poured into Transmitter to see Clinton King’s solo show, Open Ended, featuring a handsome suite of paintings bound together by a generally hibernal palette in which embedded forms, bold marks, tangentially procedural pecks, and squint-begging delimitations fill the canvases with subtle visual trickeries. The crucial outlier here is a small, vibrantly yellow work, whose chromatic shout is at once jarring and spatially necessary, not to mention an excellent formal cue for the rest of the show. One wall over, at TSA, people came to see The Two States of W.W., a group show curated by Andrew Prayzner in which a conceptual array of cognitive and meta-temporal dualities bring into confluence works by a dozen artists based in New Mexico and New York—all under the paired aegises of Walt Whitman and Walter White as figures of variable reference and reverence. The third opening in the building that night, at Microscope Gallery, was for Zach Nader’s channel surf, a solo show featuring looped videos and photographic collages in which fissures, erasures, overlays and meticulously exploited interferences leave both figure-effacing and figure-forming chimeras in their wake.
All three shows will be open for a few more weeks, so you now have at least a few reasons to pay a visit to 1329 Willoughby—where for now the count of galleries dividing up the building’s upper floor happens also to evenly divide the number of its address. And isn’t there something particularly propitious about divisibility by three? Especially since all three shows opened from 6 to 9 on 1/9/15? Well, we all hope so. These spaces are off to a very fine start.
Follow Paul D’Agostino on Twitter @postuccio