A few blocks away at Turn Gallery, Annika Peterson, who opened the space in 2015 on East 1st Street, said there’s a perception that only the big boys are booming on the gallery scene. “But around me, in my little pocket in the East Village, I’m sort of seeing people doing their own thing and doing it well,” she said, citing Fortnight and another neighbor, Karma, which doubles as a bookseller.
Peterson embraces what she described as a more relaxed approach to contemporary art dealing in her neighborhood.
“My walls aren’t perfect, I don’t have a polished concrete floor. That’s not an aesthetic I can afford right now,” she said. To keep her bottom line low, she relies on word of mouth and invests heavily in cultivating her Instagram audience, where she has roughly 28,000 enthusiastic followers, and keeps her roster and space to a size she can manage by herself so she isn’t saddled with staffing costs. Additionally, Peterson puts on longer shows than many galleries—six to eight weeks, generally—which she believes gives her artists added exposure, in lieu of doing expensive art fairs.
“I wanted to establish the brick-and-mortar incarnation of the gallery and invest more time in my artists before I started fronting big costs, like fairs and space renovations,” she said, explaining that she was more interested in slow growth over time in an era when small galleries are expected to expand quickly to compete in the marketplace.
“If you’re only looking for me in fair booths, or if you’re looking at my crooked floors, then I have bigger problems! I’ve already lost you. You should be looking at the work on my walls.”