As most creatives will tell you, being an artist is not the lackadaisical experience that it is made out to be. Overnight success is rare and many of the most talented cannot live entirely off of their work. Furthermore, art is ever evolving, becoming more inclusive of certain media (street art, for example) and more varied. The artist’s customer has changed as well, as a larger number of the average consumer becomes interested in fine arts. All of this has left traditional galleries baffled as to the best means to present work in this new market. That is, until a small group of forward-thinking industry insiders decided to band together to form a new kind of exhibition space. Beginnings Gallery is a small storefront style gallery in Brooklyn that seeks to display contemporary work in a welcoming environment through “thoughtful curation, best design practices and financial transparency”. Gone is this stuffy, intimidating gallery space full of million dollar paintings, replaced by a more intimate experience with the work that is art as it is now. Here, Beginnings co-founder/curator Joel Speasmaker tells us more about this unique new gallery.
What made you want to open your own gallery?
Interestingly enough, we weren’t planning on it. A few of us were having a long conversation about making, showing, and selling art — what it means in both a personal and professional sense, what the positives and negatives of living and showing in New York are, etc. Coincidentally, a few weeks later the small storefront in Greenpoint became available, and we jumped on it. It seemed meant to be. Seven of us as equal parts of a small and nurturing gallery (forgive me for simply quoting our mission statement), looking to “explore all the right ways that art can serve and support its audience and its creators—with thoughtful curation, best design practices and financial transparency. We are independent in politics and philosophy, but fully engaged in aesthetics, commerce and love.”
A handful of us have had direct gallery-running experience, all of us are artists in varying practices, and we hope to be able to contribute something thoughtful and exciting to our immediate neighborhood, to the creative environment of New York, and to the vast gateway that is the internet.
How is Beginnings different from other galleries?
It’s easy to say, but I hope we are balancing the line between an artist-run and a for-profit geared gallery system. We want more than anything for the artists we show to live completely off of their hard work, but we are also realistic and want to offer affordable art for everyone to enjoy. We don’t want to survive off large, infrequent sales from a select few. We want our community to understand the high value that art can provide, both from an investment standpoint and from a simpler, emotional standpoint. We truly believe in the importance of human beings creating beautiful, challenging, considerate, emotional, powerful, or even simple things. We know we have the opportunity of providing a platform for artists that we feel haven’t been given the visibility that New York can provide. How can we best utilize that?
How will a gallery like Beginnings be able to affect change on the artistic community?
I don’t think you can (or should) force anything, or even have a goal of being some sort of change agent. We can only hope to present ourselves honestly and thoughtfully, and through that hope to inspire and involve others in even the smallest ways.
You have several curators. Do you all work democratically to create a show, or with one person per show?
We have an initial life of one year, and in that year the seven of us will each handle curatorial duties of a specific month, with a more democratic process for the remaining months. Through it all is constant conversation and discovery; both amongst ourselves and with the art community around us.
Are all of you artists yourselves?
Yes! Though that means many different things; we are a pleasant mix of fine artists, graphic designers, musicians, curators, and thinkers.
How has starting a gallery changed the way you look at art?
I’d say the biggest thing is knowing we have a venue to create new experiences and work with individuals that we might not have had a chance to before. For me personally, I used to publish and edit the arts magazine The Drama, and the biggest thing I’ve missed are the interactions and relationships that happen when you have a mutual love and interest in something; in this case, it’s art. Obviously, we can’t show everyone we know or we meet, but we can certainly become friends as a result of this middle ground.
Beginnings Gallery is located at 110 Meserole Avenue in Brooklyn.