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Dramatic Changes in New York Art Gallery Scene

In a whirlwind of developments within the art gallery circuit, the past week has left the art world stunned by the closure of several prominent galleries. Among the most recent casualties is Malin Gallery, a notable establishment that had been a cornerstone of the New York art scene for the past eight years. This closure follows closely after the shuttering of other renowned art galleries, marking a significant shift in the landscape of the art community.

Just last week, the respected ARTnews publication reported the impending closure of JTT gallery, an art space that had stood as a fixture in New York for an impressive 11 years. Furthermore, another significant piece of news was unveiled earlier this week: the artist Jeffrey Gibson’s bold decision to sue the Kavi Gupta gallery in Chicago, seeking an eye-popping $600,000 in damages. These events were only a prelude to the announcement that Malin Gallery, which had been operating in New York’s vibrant Chelsea art district for nearly a decade, was closing its doors for good.

The abrupt closure of Malin Gallery has sent shockwaves throughout the art world, leaving artists, collectors, and enthusiasts with mixed emotions. The gallery, known for its innovative exhibitions and commitment to showcasing diverse talents, had managed to carve a niche for itself in the highly competitive art landscape. With locations in both New York’s Chelsea district and Aspen, Colorado, Malin Gallery had cultivated a presence that spanned coasts and garnered a dedicated following.

However, insiders reveal a different story behind the scenes. Reports suggest that as of May, Malin Gallery had accumulated debts to various vendors, including shippers, caterers, and even artists who had exhibited at the gallery. One anonymous artist, owed a substantial sum of over $9,000, recounted unsuccessful attempts to secure payment over the past three months.

These attempts included a failed wire transfer and a bounced check. In response, Barry T. Malin, the gallery’s founder and owner, vehemently denied these claims, asserting that the gallery was not indebted to anyone and, in fact, some parties owed them money.

One of the artists who recently left Malin Gallery, Jesse Krimes, opted to join forces with the Jack Shainman Gallery instead. This departure speaks volumes about the shifts occurring within the gallery, as artists assess their options in light of its sudden closure.

In a statement provided to ARTnews, Barry T. Malin expressed regret and explained, “Due to a series of unfortunate and unforeseen events, I regret to inform you that Malin Gallery is winding down and I will no longer represent individual artists.” He further disclosed that a consulting firm had been engaged to oversee the gallery’s closure, with a primary focus on managing outstanding balances and prompt payment to artists.

Malin’s art space in Aspen, which had gained traction since its establishment in 2021, also faced a tumultuous path. While other galleries came and went, Malin Gallery sought permanence in the picturesque Colorado town, a decision announced in February. Yet, the space witnessed an unexpected detour as it hosted a pop-up for a Los Angeles-based fashion company, Peri.A, from late June to late July of this year. As of now, the space stands vacant, its future uncertain.

Malin Gallery’s journey began under the name “Burning in Water” on 10th Avenue in Chelsea back in 2015. Over the years, it showcased a plethora of talented artists, including Borinquen Gallo, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Elizabeth Catlett, and Serge Attukwei Clottey. Expanding its presence, the gallery added two more spaces in Chelsea in 2018, solidifying its position within the vibrant arts district.

In recent times, Malin Gallery garnered attention for its representation of Jesse Krimes, an artist who emerged from the challenging world of incarceration to shine as a standout figure in Nicole Fleetwood’s MoMA PS1 exhibition, “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration.” This exhibit also featured works by Russell Craig, another artist represented by Malin Gallery. The gallery’s final exhibitions in New York and Aspen, featuring Angela China and Foad Satterfield respectively, both concluded in May.

As the art community grapples with these unexpected closures and shifts, questions linger about the future direction of New York’s art scene. The closure of Malin Gallery, in particular, has left a void that will undoubtedly be felt by artists, collectors, and enthusiasts alike.

In conclusion, the recent string of closures within the New York art gallery scene, including the unexpected shutdown of Malin Gallery, has left the art world in a state of flux. With established galleries such as JTT and Kavi Gupta facing challenges of their own, the dynamics of the art community are undergoing significant changes. While the reasons behind these closures may vary, one thing is certain: the landscape of the New York art scene is evolving, and its impact will be felt for years to come.

Jonas Muthoni
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