How an Art Blog Became a Gallery

06/22/2011 4:00 AM |

Art Blog Art Blog is an unusual name for a temporary exhibition space. Founded by artist Joshua Abelow, and named after his blog, the new gallery is located in painter Ross Bleckner‘s studio in Chelsea. Bleckner spends about half the year working in Sagaponack, so he’s donated his space to Abelow through October 29.

As with most opportunities in the art world, active participation and exchange brought about the free space: Abelow was Bleckner’s studio assistant for six years, and they kept in contact after he left the job, in part through the blog. “I think that’s initially what got Ross’s attention,” Abelow says. The blog consists solely of images he responded to for one reason or another. He named the space after his blog because it already had a well-established following. Also, he points out, “there’s not that many 3D spaces that are called blogs.”

There also aren’t many galleries that draw so heavily from blogging networks. Except for his own curatorial effort in September, Abelow has farmed out the curating to artists and internet aficionados he respects. Jon Lutz, a Brooklyn-based artist and blogger-turned-curator, organized the first show, Gold Records, which ran for the second half of May. The exhibition included well-known artists like Wendy White and Sara Greenberger Rafferty along with rising stars like Stacy Fisher reflecting on cultural movements of the half-century. Out of Practice, the group exhibition on view at the time of this writing, curated by Baltimore’s on- and off-line stars Nudashank, brings together work that addresses its own materiality, the act of creation and the studio itself. Word spread online about the show’s strong thematic work: Anaba, an influential artist and blogger, posted photos from the show on his blog; images of the exhibition showed up on critic Andrew Russeth’s Flickr; I learned about the show from one of the participating artists, who co-organizes Reference, a gallery in Richmond with a major online presence. The brevity of these strong shows can be frustrating, but Abelow sees the high turnover rate as being much like a blog with assorted contributors. “It’s really a group effort,” he says.

The next curators, the 12-person Ridgewood-based artist collective Regina Rex, make that clearer than ever. Their group show Entanglement runs both at their space and Art Blog Art Blog (June 24 to July 9). The exhibition will feature ten artists including Carlos Reyes, Anne-Lise Coste and Leonie Weber.

Eli Ping, a member of Regina Rex, explains how the group’s motivations for starting the gallery also relate to the show: “Basically [the gallery] is a mix between idealism and pragmatism. The pragmatic end is that artists need community to support their enterprises. It can be a lonely slog if you go at it alone. And the idealism part is that more might be accomplished in a group, because so much of what occurs in the art world is competitive. So we wanted the conceptual frame of the show to address some
of those concerns.”

Ping says the show will speak to being in two locations, as well as more disparate connections between matter. “There’s sort of a sci-fi aesthetic to this show, something akin to maybe Woody Allen’s Sleeper.” Fitting that such an exhibition should be shown in a space based on a blog.

(Image credit: Detail of work by Noam Rappaport, photo by Brandon Mitchell)

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