“Our biggest hurdle was finding a space and determining how the structure and tempo of the gallery would interact with our studio practices,” Nelson said. “Because Jason and I both have our own art careers and day jobs, the pace of exhibitions really took a toll on us.”
Nelson and Benson programmed at a taxing clip when they launched Species in February 2016—they organized six exhibitions in their first six months, one of which was a pop-up at New York gallery Bodega—but eventually scaled things back to a more sustainable pace. From the get-go, they also benefited from a subsidized space at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. However, being in Atlanta added other expenses to their operations—namely, shipping work from the hubs where most of their artist friends lived. The couple shared the day-to-day duties involved in running the space, with Benson handling tasks like deinstallation and shipping, while Nelson maintained the gallery’s website, photographed their shows, and handled press and sales.
Since closing their space in June 2017, Nelson and Benson have participated in one art fair and had a pop-up at Atlanta Contemporary. They haven’t ruled out another run of regular programming, but they’re in no rush to commit that kind of time, energy, and money to running a gallery again, either.
“It was very sad for us to shutter the original space, but we’re interested in the unusual life cycles of artist-run galleries, and the model of coming and going as sustainable,” Nelson said. “Permanence isn’t the goal, but we consider a lot of possibilities, including reopening a brick and mortar when it feels appropriate.”