Interview with Marlee Katz and Danielle Dewar, who bravely launched their gallery in the midst of these hard times

A new gallery, founded by Marlee Katz and Danielle Dewar, is opening in New York. Tchotchke Gallery, directed  by two women with extensive experience in the art-world, just launched (digitally) with the online exhibition When Life Doesn’t Give You Lemons. Aptly titled for the current situation, the group show presents new works by 20 dynamic artists. These explore the ‘creativity’ mantra, reflecting on what propels an artist to continually practice when the “norm” becomes derailed.

Hannah Lupton Reinhard, ‘Right of Passage’, 2020. Oil and crystals on canvas, 40 x 60 inches, $5,800

Tchotchke asked each artist two eclectic questions to further learn about the artist’s practice and personality. For this exhibition, and for all in the future, the gallery aims to create a dynamic and engaging space where collectors can learn beyond an artist’s practice and identify with their personality.

Participating artists are: Maddy Bohrer, Sydney Bowers, Lisa Armstrong Noble, Daisy Dodd Noble, Kady Grant, Nancy Grimes, Sevde Hallac, David Heo, Sarah Kim, Robert Levine, Hannah Lupton Reinhard, Christie Macdonald, John Madu, Austin Moule, Caitlyn Murphy, Christian Perdix, Edd Ravn, Joani Tremblay, Laura Wetter, and Mikey Yates.

About the gallery, Katz says “Tchotchke aims to create a lasting environment where collectors can continually engage with artists and their artwork. Our goal is to cultivate a space for promising artists all while encouraging and supporting their ardent practice.” The founders selected a program of artists that they strongly stand behind reflecting a common belief that will bring inspiration and comfort to both novice and experienced collectors alike. Dewar adds “We aimed to curate a selection of artists that not only resonate with us exclusively but also artists we knew would make an impact across-the-board, which we believe is paramount in an industry that is emphatically evolving towards a more positive and inclusive space.“

 

You both come from the art world, Marlee as an art advisor and Danielle as an artist. When and how did you mature the decision to come together and build a gallery of your own?

We met while working at a gallery in Manhattan. Through this, we formed a strong personal relationship alongside our initial professional connection. By navigating the ins-and-outs of secondary gallery life, we often found ourselves daydreaming and planning what it would be like to create our own space. We immediately discovered that we had similar goals supporting the trajectory of emerging artists; thus, our objective came to fruition with the launch of Tchotchke Gallery.

Maddy Bohrer, ‘Hoarding II’, 2020. Acrylic on canvas, 22 x 28 inches, $4,000

Why did you choose this unique historical moment, marked by waves of disease, fear, instability, and injustice to open the gallery?

As expected, gallery staff were not exempt from the financial ramifications of the pandemic. By March, we both found ourselves furloughed in New York City, the epicenter of the COVID outbreak. Times were, and continue to be, daunting so we found ourselves wavering between periods of productivity and catatonic uncertainty while trying to focus our efforts on creating and sustaining ourselves. We are currently living through the most important social movement of our lifetimes so it has been an undoubtedly difficult time to focus inward on our personal goals while bearing in mind the state of the world. We believe this has helped catalyze our goal of launching a gallery with the aim of building meaningful connections across-the-board. We believe this is paramount in an industry that is emphatically evolving towards a more positive and inclusive space.

 

What are the principal aims you set for the gallery?

Tchotchke is committed to showcasing promising and exciting artists through the gallery’s inviting digital space, curated for novice and experienced collectors alike. Tchotchke aims to inspire collectors and artists through engaging collaborative and educational efforts.

 

Where do you see your new art space in a few years?

Our goal is to open a space on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. Viewing art in person and engaging with collectors, artists, and members of the art community drives us. Whether you are a collector or simply stopping by to view the exhibition, our gallery experience will always skew towards a friendly and inviting environment. We’re not too cool to say hello!

Mikey Yates, ‘Hoop Dreams’, 2018. Oil on canvas, 60 x 72 inches, $6,675

Why the name tchotchke?

tchotchke /CHäCHk/ collectible, conversational, storytelling, a sagacious environment to find, explore, and intrigue, building a dynamic community of engaged collectors and influential artists 

We wanted to redefine the word tchotchke focusing on the values of collectibility and sentiment. Oftentimes, the word tchotchke is associated with an object that may not have high financial value yet has high emotional and sentimental value. We aim to take a new perspective on this playful, old Yiddish term and strengthen it with concepts around an inclusive collecting community.

 

Can you tell us something about your inaugural exhibition, When Life Doesn’t Give You Lemons?

When Life Doesn’t Give You Lemons was realized upon personal reflection of the heavy and trying times we are all navigating through; thus, Tchotchke was catapulted into existence. We wanted to connect with our artists and give them a platform to express what ‘keeps them keepin’ on’ during this uncertainty. We selected a program of artists that we strongly stand behind expressing a common belief that will bring inspiration and comfort to both novice and seasoned collectors alike. When Life Doesn’t Give You Lemons is an exploration of what propels an artist to continually practice when the “norm” becomes derailed.

Sarah Kim, ‘Nowhere To Go But Up’, 2020, Flashe and acrylic on fabric with embroidery, 18 x 16 inches

 

Tchotchke Gallery, When Life Doesn’t Give You Lemons – digital exhibition

September 8th – October 30th, 2020

@tchotchkegallery / #tchotchkegallery

About Irene Machetti

I am a freelance journalist, who has been collaborating with FAD for over 2 years. I recently founded the column FOOD ART, where I interview artists, and thinkers working around issues related to food. I have a growing interest for contemporary art, especially ceramics, photography, and performance art, in which I specialised at The Courtauld Institute of Art.