Gabriel Hartley at Foxy Production (Installation View, Photo Mark Woods)
Most Chelsea galleries closed for Memorial Day weekend. If you’re like me, you probably assumed at least a few would stay open, but you might not know why they made that decision. Given the range of operating hours galleries have not just during the holidays, but throughout the year, it seemed like it wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask a few gallerists how they determined their work week.
On the subject of staying open over the holiday weekend, Foxy Production co-owner John Thomson’s explanation was simple. “We definitely had to stay open,” he told me, speaking of their Gabriel Hartley exhibition, “Saturday was our last day open and we didn’t think about it being Memorial Day weekend when we set the dates of the show.” Some of Foxy’s neighbors were in the same predicament: 27th Street has a habit of running their exhibitions concurrently, and on Saturday I found both Derek Eller and Winkleman Gallery sticking it out for the final days of a solo show of Tom Thayer’s Biennial work and an 80s-throwback group show, respectively.
With other galleries, the decision was less forced. Anton Kern stayed open Saturday, despite the holiday weekend, but their Manfred Pernice show doesn’t close until the end of the month. The gallery felt it was especially important to be open to the public, even half-staffed, on a holiday weekend.
“It’s a different atmosphere [on the weekends],” Thomson told me, speaking more broadly about the gallery’s Tuesday through Saturday work week. “You do work, but it’s a lot of talking to people rather than dealing with shipping.”
Notably, Lower East Side Galleries tend to be open Wednesday through Sunday. Ron Segev, co-owner of one of the first LES galleries, Thierry Goldberg, explained his rationale for their hours. “Our hours are based on the New Museum schedule,” he told me plainly as he reflected on his gallery’s 2007 debut. The museum too, is open Wednesday through Sunday. “As soon as a few galleries opened, everyone followed that schedule. And of course it also makes sense because other [Chelsea] galleries are closed.”
Interestingly, it turns out the tradition of staying open on Sundays has a longer history than the recent migration of galleries to the Lower East Side. In the early 80s, East Village galleries also kept a Wednesday through Sunday schedule. Postmasters co-owner Magda Sawon was one of the first gallerists to move to the neighborhood, in 1984. "There was a need to give this extra day so people who were going to Soho would have more time,” she says. Sue Scott said the same was true of her gallery, today based on Rivington Street: “A lot of critics like to come down on Sunday. We get a lot of people coming through here then.”
Salon 94, a more established gallery across the street, maintains Tuesday through Saturday hours, like many of the blue-chip galleries in the neighborhood. When I asked Salon 94 Partner and Director Alissa Freedman why they bucked the normal working hours of the neighborhood, her answer was predictably pragmatic. “For us, it was a practical decision. Our uptown gallery [on 94th] is open Monday through Friday.” Staying open Tuesday through Saturday gives them a day they wouldn’t have on the LES standard schedule to communicate with staff in other locations.
As for the gallery’s summer hours, unsurprisingly every gallery handles this slightly differently. Most galleries told me they’d run a Monday through Friday schedule after July 4th. Whether or not the gallery closes for August altogether, however, seems to be determined on a case by case basis. Sue Scott mentioned she’d be open by appointment only that month, though that was after checking with her neighbors. Dodge Gallery will be doing the same. Like many galleries in the city, both expect buyers to be vacationing that month, and want to conserve resources.