There is plenty of public art in Chelsea. Walking along the High Line or down 10th Avenue one is sure to catch a glimpse of the myriad murals, sculptures, and installations that beautify this artful Manhattan neighborhood. But there is also a great deal of private art in Chelsea. With its hundreds of galleries and dealers, Chelsea is a global hub of contemporary art. Access to the contemporary art world is often exclusive to those who can pay the hefty price tag for a Cy Twombly, or at least know someone who can. The sad truth is, most of these galleries are free and open to the public every day,yet the art world's penchant for anything and everything upscale tends to alienate those with thin wallets or black books. In this context, the Chelsea Art Walk is a breath of fresh air. On July 24th thousands of art lovers, from connoisseurs to newbies, descended upon the art galleries of Chelsea for its fifth annual Art Walk. The premise is simple: nearly one hundred galleries between 9th and 11th Avenues and 16th and 30th Streets open their doors to visitors from 5-8 pm on a Thursday night for an evening of art, schmoozing, a bit of free wine.
Don't be fooled; this is no typical Thursday night gallery opening. The Chelsea Art Walk is an annual event that showcases the group shows, special exhibitions, and events that can only be seen during the summer season. This year's Art Walk featured special events ranging from a rare and out of print pop-up bookstore at David Zwirner to a panel discussion on artist Sterling Ruby's work at Hauser & Wirth. Brian Rose's photographs of the changing Meatpacking District in Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013 at Dillon Gallery and Henning Rogge's images of WWII-era bomb craters in Germany featured in the group show The Beautiful Changes at RH Contemporary are just two of the standout bodies of work featured during the Art Walk.
What truly separates the Chelsea Art Walk from other openings is that it is inclusive. One can go as far as to say that the galleries participating in the Art Walk are, for once, displaying public art; accessible to a wide range of viewers at no cost. Here everyone has the opportunity to immerse themselves in the contemporary art world. Art Walks such as these are the loophole in the contemporary world.
Yancey Richardson Gallery // Jack Schainman Gallery
Text by Nora Landes
Photographs by Chad Smith