Wednesday, June 23, 2010
SPACES gallery in Cleveland wants out of the landlord business and plans to sell its building at Superior Viaduct
Owning its own building since 1990 has given Spaces, the city's nonprofit, artist-run gallery, a sense of independence and financial stability.
Now, however, Spaces sees its three-story brick loft building at 2220 Superior Viaduct as a distraction from its core mission. Christopher Lynn, who joined Spaces as its director just under two years ago, said today the organization will soon list the three-story brick loft building for sale for $595,000.
"The bottom line is that it takes time to manage the building," he said. Lynn wants the six staff members at Spaces, five of whom are full-time, to focus primarily on the gallery's artistic mission, not on maintaining the building and making sure it's fully rented. Lynn said the gallery's board, which is dominated by artists, also feels that the visibility of Spaces has been diminished by construction of a large apartment building directly south, across the street. The apartments block views of Spaces from the Detroit-Superior Bridge.
Lynn said the gallery's board, which is dominated by artists, also feels that the visibility of Spaces has been diminished by construction of a large apartment building directly south, across the street. The apartments block views of Spaces from the Detroit-Superior Bridge.
"We're on a dead-end street, so people have to be driving down our dead-end street in order to see us," Lynn said.
In addition to other factors, Spaces has artistic reasons for wanting to sell.
Given the gallery's increasing emphasis on providing residencies for international artists and staging events or art installations around the city, it may not need a permanent gallery space, Lynn said.
In the near-term, the gallery would like to lease its gallery space from a potential buyer, at least on a short-term basis. Long-term, the gallery may become "a homeless institution by choice," Lynn said.
Founded in 1978, Spaces was conceived as an alternative to the city's commercial galleries. It was intended to be a place where artists could exhibit experimental work that wasn't intended to be market-friendly.
Under former Director Susan Channing, Spaces bought the loft building on Superior Viaduct in 1990 after moving from its rented former quarters in the city's Warehouse District.
In 2002, Spaces retired the mortgage on the building with a $126,070 grant from the New York-based Andy Warhol Foundation.
Lynn said today that the Warhol foundation and other longtime funders approved of the new initiative by Spaces to sell the building.
This summer, Spaces, which operates on a $500,000 annual budget, will renovate its galleries on the first floor of the Superior Viaduct building to make them simpler and more efficient. Simplifying the layout will enable the gallery to close off sections that aren't needed and to reduce energy costs, Lynn said.
The gallery also announced it will host a four-month residency this fall for artists Nandipha Mntambo from South Africa. Mntambo is scheduled to have an exhibition at Spaces starting Nov. 19.