It’s easy for art to be stuffy. It is so often commoditized, spoken about in high-falutin language, and seen as something only the wealthy can buy (or understand). At Not Another Art Gallery, artist, gallerist and curator David Craig Ellis knows these venues can offer so much more.
In his interview with Greenpointers, David chats about the opening of his new gallery at 109 Broadway in Williamsburg. Speaking of wealth, the venue is all of a stone’s throw from Peter Luger Steakhouse, but fret not: no white-glove prissiness awaits you at this gallery. Instead, visitors can come enjoy a new show, as comically named as the space itself: “The Brand New New Year Show.” Learn more from David below, and swing by to check out the new exhibit!
Greenpointers: Let’s start with your cheeky names, Not Another Gallery and the show, “The Brand New New Year Show”. Do these speak to the vibe at your space? What’s the idea behind the names?
David Craig Ellis: Originally hailing from Canada, I suppose I have a need to find humor in things, even a subject as serious as “art.” A year ago, I booked a trip to Miami to sit on the beach and think up the concept and the name for this gallery. Having worked in them, I’m sick of galleries and I have an adverse reaction to anything corporate or phony. Knowing I’m not going to be able to compete with snooty Chelsea galleries, why not just be myself? The gallery itself was to be an art project, an installation. I knew I’d need a photogenic dog that I could teach to paint. The name and the vibe to me, needed to capture the rock and roll carefree vibe I felt was evident in the East Village in the early 90’s.
When did you open and what has that process been like?
I left my DUMBO studio/gallery of eight years in July to come back to Williamsburg. Years ago, I owned a pizzeria on Metropolitan Ave and a bar on Havemeyer, so I was excited to come back. Finding a space was not fun at all. A lot of deals fell through, a lot of unethical, dishonest people tried my patience along the way, but once I secured this space the process was fun. To preserve a wide open concept feeling, I used clear plexiglass panels to carve out a little office space. I made the front desk out of clear plexiglass. Designing a new website and social media for the dog has been a fun adventure. And I’ve gained a new best friend.
How are you curating your artists?
So far, in curating the artists, I’ve essentially chosen all of my artist friends old and new to take part in this group show. Many of them happen to be among my favorite artists as well. A lot of us go back to the Gallery Stendhal days of the early 90’s, a gallery in Soho where I was employed. Several of the artists I know from the 90’s rock and roll scene — we were all in bands having the time of our lives and somehow survived the debauchery.
What can folks expect from “The Brand New New Year Show”?
“The Brand New New Year Show,” is a “feel good” show. You wanna turn it up and sing along like you would the feel good song of the summer. It’s a colorful presentation and every painting has a cool story behind it. The artists are all extremely interesting and I love walking people through the show and explaining the artists and the paintings, one by one. Everyone loves the fact that my dog, “Jackson Pawlick” has a painting in the show. I’ve had to extend the show because of the positive reaction.
What are you excited about this year as your first full one in Williamsburg?
I look forward to having an entire summer here with the doors wide open. I love the fact that there are two entrances, one on Broadway and one on South 6th. I look forward to pedestrians being drawn in by the 70’s rock playing over the surround sound system.