Seventeen director David Hoyland said the gallery had run according to plan, but had closed “for personal rather than business or political reasons.” That space will be taken over by its financial backer Pierre Trahan, who will open a branch of his Canadian arts nonprofit Arsenal
in its place.
Nonetheless, one recent Lower East Side merger offers a cautionary tale for Downs and Ross’s new venture. Like Downs & Ross, Feuer/Mesler, which was inaugurated in May 2015, also began across two Lower East Side spaces. The gallery combined the forces of the Lower East Side’s Joel Mesler and Chelsea gallerist Zach Feuer. Feuer/Mesler eventually consolidated to one space in November 2015, after the landlord of the Orchard Street space (formerly Mesler’s Untitled gallery) changed the lease.
In January, however, the gallery announced that it would close. Its Grand Street space is being taken over by longtime Feuer/Mesler director Lauren Marinaro, who will draw from the Feuer/Mesler roster, though also introduce new artists. Mesler has plans to open his own space, Rental Gallery in East Hampton, this summer, to capitalize on the city’s dead summer months and to focus on his family and his own painting career.
Downs & Ross’s relative newness to the art market may add strength to the merger, suggested Mesler. Unlike Feuer and Mesler, who each had a decades-long presence in the art world, Downs and Ross lack the “weight and history on our backs” that Mesler said burdened his merger with Feuer.
Unlike Feuer and Mesler, who had to merge audiences from Chelsea and the Lower East Side, the Downs & Ross spaces are just some four blocks apart, and anchored to existing clusters. The former Tomorrow space is in close proximity to Canada, Jack Hanley, and Nicelle Beauchene, as well as the galleries at 291 Grand Street. The former Hester space shares an address with Johannes Vogt and is within a two-block radius of other strong programs like Bridget Donahue and Miguel Abreu.
“We live in the area, we work in the area, we feel very close to our public and we want to continue cultivating and serving our audience here,” Ross says.