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He says even in a slow economy, people should come, because galleries should be more than places to buy art. So last year he came up with the idea for Gallery Week.
“If people perceived us to be exclusively commercial and when the economy was going bad that they would then disappear, then something was wrong and New York Gallery Week is a way of trying to address that because what we do is not exclusively commercial,” Kaplan explains. “We're a real community and it's a moment for gallery owners to organize themselves and to present us as a true community.”
His gallery on West 21st is one of about 50 galleries now through Monday offering not just new exhibits, but also performances, films screenings, lectures and more.
“One of the real points that we're trying to drive across is that there's incredible art to be seen in New York,” he says. “The level and the quality of the work that is on view each month at the gallery is of a standard that is unequal in any place in the world.”
Beyond Gallery Week, there's always plenty to see at the galleries across the city. And, in fact, according to some, maybe there's too much.
David Behringer goes to dozens of gallery shows each week. He picks his favorites to write about on his website "The Two Percent."
"'Two percent' is the percentage of art that is really worth seeing,” he says. “Now that seems cruel, but there's really 350-plus galleries out here and to see them all in one day or one month is nearly impossible. So I thought 'How can I condense this and make it doable for someone who's just new to the neighborhood, doesn't know what to see, wants to see three or four great shows?' So I'm providing those five shows, which is approximately two percent.”
One of his top picks is a Monet exhibit at Gagosian Gallery on West 21st Street. This show is a great reminder that sometimes you can see museum quality work, without the crowds of a blockbuster museum show and without the price of admission.
“The reason the MOMA's crowded and the reason this is not, is because people, a, don't know where to go, and b, are not sure if they feel welcome in this environment,” says Behringer. “So what Gallery Week is doing, what I'm doing, is saying 'Yes, you're welcome, come out here' and, two, here's a sampling of just a few shows to get you started so you know where to go and the best that's out there.’”
New York Gallery Week goes runs through this Monday, but with this much to see, even if you're just focusing on two percent, every week can be gallery week in New York City.