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Kelie Bowman and Sto, the artists who founded this tiny Williamsburg art and 'zine gallery in 2005, make the most of the space they have, packing the walls and small store for every exhibition, and offering many more works for sale on their website. With their focus on showing Brooklyn artists, many of whom are friends and acquaintances, there's a palpable sense of community to the work and exhibitions. That emphasis on young and emerging artists also means that most of the art is very affordable, with pieces and indie publications ranging from $5 to $3,000. Even when they work with fairly well-known artists and groups (this month the French collective Le Dernier Cri
has taken over the space, through December 19) the prices are always accessible.
"Because we have so little space we really try to make the most of it," Sto told me last month, "by covering the walls with art and letting artists really take over." When I asked if he could see running Cinders without the brick and mortar space he shook his head. "It's really important for me and Kelie to have this place where people can come to meet," he said, "and have a good time and look at the work, plus we get lots of people who might never look at art wandering in off the street, looking around, maybe buying a 'zine or a poster." Given how much work is available through the Cinders website, I wondered how significant walk-in sales were compared to online purchases. "I'd say about 40 percent of our sales are through the website," he explained, "and the buyers are all over the world. I've shipped things to Brazil, Australia, all around Europe." And it's not just young Williamsburgers coming to Cinders to find affordable art. "We have a very diverse group of clients," Sto told me, "One of the people who buys from us sort of regularly has their collection at the Whitney, so it's really everyone from collectors to first-timers." Sto and Bowman curate many of the shows themselves, offering their insiders' take on who is worth knowing and collecting in Brooklyn's perpetually evolving art scene.
Obviously, the go-to for all things hand-made and crafty is increasingly serving as an online gallery for artists whose work isn't available through galleries. This makes it a bit of a double-edged sword: with no middle-man (save a cursory Etsy fee) artists can sell their wares at reasonable prices and received all the profits; but with no guiding taste-maker involved, there's no quality control. So while browsing Etsy you'll come across a lot of mediocre things like this
, but also some really beautiful work, like this
. Also, with the start-up's recent move to Dumbo, it's technically both local and global.