A Chelsea gallery is hoping to help redefine the gallery-going experience with Moroccan flavor. NY1's Arts reporter Stephanie Simon filed the following report.
Trading in the traditional gallery fare of wine and cheese for figs and tea, the Underline Gallery at 238 West 14th Street has been transformed into a Moroccan market or souk, complete with food, textiles, art, spices and more.
Gallery director Casey Burry was inspired by a recent trip.
"The inspiration was the souks of Morocco, a marketplace where you had everything from textiles, rugs and vintage goods to more contemporary type work,” says Casey Burry the Director of Underline Gallery. "We also were inspired because we think souks did a nice job of influencing contemporary art fairs. So we mixed more of a contemporary type of work with more of a traditional view of the souk marketplace."The exhibit is called "SOUK: And You Shall Find," and there is plenty to find in the gallery.
“For example, behind me are these carpet full of sequins, they’re called wedding blankets,” says Burry. "Haley Macula is an artist who has a dolly cart so she goes around the streets and sells prints from her files for really affordable prices but she also does these terrific pop star paraphernalia."
Paintings shown lying against the wall at the gallery were not waiting to be hung. Being able to pick up a painting is part of the whole souk atmosphere.
"The other thing about souk, a lot of times the artist will be here during the show so visitors get to learn about how the craft is done, learn about technique and process, the actual artwork, spend time with the artist," says Burry.
While this multisensory exhibition harkens back to a traditional marketplace, Burry says she believes it also represents the future of New York City art galleries.
"That’s our mission. We want people to come in, we want to make sure the experience is very approachable, very immersive. I think that’s the only way to do it today," says Burry. "I think that old model of gallery, being stark and white and sterile and unfriendly, doesn’t really work in today’s economy."
Judging from the turnout, this kind of festive art bazaar isn't that bizarre at all.