Katya Kazakina takes a look at a new gallery on the Lower East Side of Manhattan that’s holding a show of work from four private collections. The show was curated by Claire Distenfeld, a young curator who tapped her connections to find some collectors willing not only to test the market but add some much needed supply:
“It’s a sign of the times,” said owner Joel Mesler, 35. “There’s been a huge paradigm shift in the art market. People who know how to adapt and are not rigidly operating the same way they have been for the past five years are going to prevail.”
“Don’t Panic!” is an attempt to attract new clients during the lean times, said Mesler, a mellow and soft-spoken West Coast transplant. He closed his Los Angeles-based Mesler & Hug gallery last month to focus on Rental, where he often partners with likeminded out-of-town galleries.
“On Sept. 15 our phone stopped ringing,” said director Philip Deely, 25, remembering the day when Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy in 2008. “It lasted into early spring. But people are not panicking any more. There’s renewed hope that wasn’t there six months ago.”
“Don’t Panic!” encapsulates many sectors of the art bubble: Blue-chip artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein; speculators’ darlings Richard Prince and Murakami; young overnight sensations Barnaby Furnas and Hope Atherton; veterans John Wesley and Marilyn Minter; Chinese artists Huang Yan and Zhang Dali. […]
You can pick up a small “joke” painting by Prince for $110,000, a Warhol silkscreen of martini glasses for $165,000 and an oval canvas by Elizabeth Peyton for $50,000.
One of the show’s highlights, a painting by George Condo, was too big to fit in the elevator or make it up the narrow stairway lined with Chinese signs, a bridal-gown shop and a dental office. It’s still for sale at $85,000.