Monday, November 11, 2019

NYC's New Art Scene: Mini-Guide to Groovy Galleries & More on the Lower East Side

By Jacquelin Carnegie
In the art world, things are constantly shifting. And, New York City's gallery scene, shifts with real estate values. In the 1960s and 70s, as artists moved into the beautiful-but-abandoned industrial buildings in the SoHo neighborhood, galleries followed. As rents skyrocketed, in the late 1990s, the galleries moved to another, under-appreciated
LES 1900s (photo: Jewish Museum)
neighborhood: Chelsea. Now, the gallery scene is shifting to the Lower East Side, an area best known for discount shopping. While the gallery spaces tend to be smaller, this move is terrific because the neighborhood is lively and diverse making it fun to explore.
Lower East Side Visitors Center (54 Orchard St., Tel: 212-226-9010; - Stop in to pick up a map with gallery listings and find out more about the LES neighborhood, home to immigrants from all over the world for generations. Now, trendy boutiques and art galleries are popping up amongst the discount shops and ethnic restaurants, adding to the ambience.
There are now about 100+ galleries on the LES. Here are some good places to start, download a Gallery Guide before you head out.
Westwood Gallery NYC
Warhol (photo: Bob Adelman)

262 Bowery (btw E Houston & Prince), Tel: 212-966-2520; - Exhibits work by a core group of world-famous contemporary artists and photographers, such as: Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Avedon & Bob Adelman. (The gallery is right across the street from the New Museum--see below; visit both for an artsy afternoon!)
Foley Gallery
59 Orchard St (btw Grand & Hester), Tel: 212-244-9081; - Spotlights fascinating photography, painting, drawing, and cut paper. Check out Simon Schubert's work!

Anastasia Photo
Grace Knowlton, 
Blind Painting

143 Ludlow St (at Stanton), Tel: 212-677-9725; - Features documentary photography and photojournalism. View Matt Black's The Geography of Poverty series.
131 Allen St (btw Rivington & Delancey), Tel: 212-366-6939; - Focuses on ephemeral and media-based work.
LES Art Gallery Tour ( Sure, you can wander around on your own, but if you'd like a more personalized, in-depth experience, art-historian Savona Bailey-McClain leads group and private tours of LES galleries.
Gallery hopping is fun, but you'll need to stop for a coffee or grab a bite to keep your energy up. There's a number of great coffee places and, of course, nearby Chinatown for lunch or dinner:
Roasting Plant 81 Orchard St (btw Broome & Grand);
- Serving brewed-by-the-cup coffee. Cafe Katja 79 Orchard St (btw Broome & Grand); - Austrian comfort food & imported beers on tap.
Tenements Tales & Tastes Tour (Urban Adventures NYC, Let Urban Adventures' friendly, enthusiastic guides fill you in on the history of the area, home to immigrants from all over the world for generations. Each ethnic group added to the "beautiful mosaic" of New York City. Sample Chinese, Italian, Germany & Jewish food to round out the experience.
In addition to the burgeoning art scene, check out these fascinating museums:
Tenement Museum 103 Orchard St; - The story of immigrants in New York City in the late 1800s, beautifully told. There are a variety of tours that can be pre-booked on the website.
The New Museum of Contemporary Art 235 Bowery; - Exhibiting striking, post-modern art.
ICP Museum 79 Essex St; - The International Center of Photography has relocated to the Lower East Side to become the cultural anchor at the new Essex Crossing complex.
Discount stores still thrive along with a thousand other little funky shops, but gentrification is rapidly encroaching via trendy, designer boutiques. Here are a few stores that have been on the LES for generations:
Altman Luggage
135 Orchard St (btw Delancey & Rivington), Tel: 212-254-7275; - since 1920.
A. W. Kaufman Designer Lingerie 73 Orchard St (btw Grand & Broome), Tel: 212-226-1629; - since 1924.
Harris Levy Fine Linens
98 Forsyth (btw Grand & Broome), Tel: 212-226-3102; - from an Orchard St pushcart in 1894 to a store in 1899.
Katz Furniture 20 Orchard St (btw Canal & Hester), Tel: 212-677-8528; - since 1906.
Moscot Eyewear 108 Orchard St (at Delancey), Tel: 212-477-3796; - from a pushcart to a store in 1915.

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