10:20 am Oct. 23, 2012
Kathy Grayson, owner of The Hole, is well aware of her gallery’s appeal.
“Certainly there are some buyers who are attracted to the fact that we're the most popular young gallery,” she said. “They buy stuff because we have 5,000 people at openings, because some collectors are just like ‘I read about you in Vogue and all these cool kids are into you.’” A faint smell of cigarettes wafted through the gallery on Saturday during Grayson’s latest opening, a group photography show called Attachments. Grayson threaded her way through the crowd, often with an unlit American Spirit hanging from her mouth.
“Like, I was at a party and the D.J. told me ‘You're the best gallery,’” she continued. “Having tons of 20-somethings love your gallery does, at some point, turn into collectors seeing that's what all the cool kids think is cool.”
Cool has been something of Grayson's stock in trade since she was plucked from the reception desk at Deitch Projects by Jeffrey Deitch himself and made co-director of that gallery in the early 2000s. When Deitch decamped for Los Angeles in 2010, he handed his roster off to Grayson and she opened The Hole, a place that, like Deitch, stands apart from the Chelsea scene, starting with its East Village location. Attachments is characteristic, featuring work by a healthy mix of rising art-world stars, downtown scenesters, and VICE-approved provocateurs.
About an hour after the opening started the gallery space was packed, with as many people inside as outside, crowding the sidewalk out front. Not 5,000 people, maybe, but certainly some hundreds of young people—fashionably disheveled and drinking PBRs or rum-and-sodas.
There is a certain glossy glamour to the art crowd as it manifests itself at The Hole (not quite the same folks who make the Chelsea rounds). Plus, as Grayson suggests, the coolness is as much an endorsement for the gallery as the other way around. And coolness, as much as the art on the walls, is what Grayson—a good student of her mentor, Deitch—is looking to sell. Often it’s hard to tell the difference.
“Ryan [McGinley] told me Sandy Kim is the next Ryan McGinley,” Grayson said. “Which gets really funny for him to say, but whatever, other people have said it too. She's 23 and a Korean-American girl. She obviously has a cool, fun life and interesting looking friends, but there is also something magic about her photographs.”
But some attendees weren’t buying the magic.
“I don't love Sandy Kim, but she's cool,” Winslow, a 23-year-old photography student, said. “To me, that's not my thing. It's too ‘hang out.’ Like ‘We're hanging out, we're all beautiful, and let's take pictures and be beautiful.’”
“Right and no one is fat or has weird marks,” I offered.
“Oh, I know, it's like ‘Do you have a weird mark that somehow works in the picture?” Winslow said. “And you're like ‘Oh damn it, you guys look too nice. All the time.’”
Winslow wasn’t just there to criticize, though. He was exuberant in his praise of the other work in the show—Peter Sutherland’s handmade double exposures and Jessica Eaton’s piece; Eaton uses different in-camera techniques to pull color out of grayscale grids.
“It's like the meeting of the new aesthetic,” Winslow said, not evidently referring to the New Aesthetic, the glitch-obsessed art theory of James Bridle, but rather declaring Sutherland, Eaton, and even Kim the wave of the future.
“You guys like the show?” photographer Aaron Wojack, 33, asked us outside. He hadn’t been in yet.
“You an artist?” Winslow asked.
“I'm a photographer. Sometimes it's art, sometimes it aint.” Wojack said, with a laugh.
“How long have you been shooting?” Winslow asked.
“I dunno, ten years? Depends on what you qualify as art.” Wojack said.
“So, when did you start taking images then?”
“Well I'm 33 and I think I peed in the snow when I was 7.”
“Yes, I see an image there. My friend and I say we're not photographers, we make images” Winslow said.
Meanwhile, inside, the alcohol was quickly disappearing. “Gallery Girl”’s Angela Pham, manicured as if her entire life is played out on television, chatted away. Grayson spoke with a prospective buyer while co-curator Tim Barber left to set up for the after party at his house.
Two German artists sat on the bench in front of the gallery—new to the city, new to the art world, giddy to admit that they wouldn’t typically be at an opening like this.
“This is like MTV or something,” Konstantin, 27, said, “It's the same energy.”
“It’s kind of pop culture.” his friend, Philipp Hollinger, 25, said, “For most people it's more about the cultural event than the art so many people didn’t look at the art. They’re just there to be seen by other people.”
“That could be a form within itself,” Konstantin said, “I was thinking that what would be so funny is you could just have a place with people and you could just do something like play games with them. It would be so funny if they would just look at each other and observe each other like they observe the picture.”
“And that would be the artwork?” I asked.
'Attachments' is on view at The Hole through Nov. 3.
More by this author:
- For Charles Clough, a solo show that raises the question: What was the 'Pictures Generation' really?
- Steven Soderbergh describes his last good shot