Zach Feuer Gallery, 22nd Street
(Note the exposed interior wall)
Photograph by Katy Hamer, 2012
eyes-towards-the-dove would like to send warm condolences to all of the galleries and subsequent artists in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood that were effected by Hurricane Sandy. I toured the neighborhood today walking between David Zwirner on 19th Street to James Cohen on 26th Street and found the site to be eerie and disturbing. Armed with my Canon PowerShot, I intended to focus on a reportage of sorts, not unlike the many art magazines, writers and photographers alike who have assisted in supplying both the public and industry with consistent coverage ever since Sandy touched down in NY. But three full days after the hurricane, Manhattan, especially below 30th street which only recently started to regain power, was uncomfortably quiet.  Echoing through the cavernous streets of the west side gallery district, is the dull, droning hum of generators and water pumps as they dutifully extract liquid from gallery interiors. Dumpsters have replaced cars on several streets and in some cases stretch the entire length between tenth and eleventh avenues. Each bin is filled with miscellaneous items ranging from debris to large painted canvases destroyed due to water damage. Silver iMac’s were positioned on the sidewalk in front of Anton Kern Gallery on 20th Street with hopes of catching a breeze or risk at becoming trash. Other galleries followed suit placing office paraphernalia, chairs, and artwork into the exterior realm where they may start to dry out. The situation is bleak. Inside many of the spaces, walls have already been stripped bare inadvertently revealing the height where the water surged at it’s worst. As dealers and their employees swept floors, set up dehumidifiers, surveyed damage to paintings, sculptures, photographs, installations, etc. and focused on their intended task at hand I found myself both engaged and a bit sheepish. As art handlers flurried about carrying boxes and bubble wrapped goods into waiting transport,  I observed piles of now empty frames stacked next to doorways and someone who stood in the now vacant Dia Art Foundation space, who stared into the greyed expanse, appearing to silently sigh.
Andrew Kreps Gallery, 22nd street
(Boxed art leaning against the facade)
Photograph by Katy Hamer, 2012
Unexpectedly, I had a difficult time taking photographs accompanied by the sensation of looking into someone’s home during an uncomfortable, intimate moment. Along with this unanticipated  vulnerability in a neighborhood where I normally am quite comfortable, also hung an invisible, yet significant layer of hope. Days prior, even after listening to a barrage of warnings about the storm, I hadn’t expected to be peering into buildings I often frequent in complete disarray due to natural disaster. But one remarkable quality of art, artists and art lovers alike (whether dealers, collectors, appreciators) is that in it’s purest form, it is immortal. The structural damage has been done and now it is time to focus on rebuilding, reformulating and rediscovering the motivation that has allowed artists to formulate careers while also giving the public the opportunity to experience art on various levels. Commercial galleries present art that inspires, amazes, shocks and challenges the viewer with the option to buy or not. Accessibility is key and in viewing art on any level one is able to tap into the most genuine of purposes and most rudimentary of human instincts: feeling.
While countless galleries have sent emails regarding rescheduling of shows some with less severe damage hope to be running by next week. Also as Chelsea is just one of the neighborhoods effected by the storm, many others have suffered as well. To donate or volunteer in the citywide recovery effort WNYC has compiled a list here:
If you are an artist who has experienced damage or loss of artwork please go to
Yellow tape marks the height of water from Hurricane Sandy
on the building which formerly housed the Chelsea Art Museum
Photograph by Katy Hamer, 2012

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