We managed to grab some time with Gabe Boyers owner of “B” Dry Goods, to talk about the gallery his family ties to the location, the importance of the physical in the age of digital and the gallery’s upcoming exhibition Fully Furnished.
Can you tell us about your family’s connection to the location of your gallery?
The name and location trace back to the Crown Heights business owned and operated by my great-grandfather Meyer Bussell (“B”) at the corner of nearby St. John’s Place and Troy Avenue. Upon completion of his rabbinical training, “B” immigrated around 1910 from the village of Snov in the Ukraine, his family pooling their meagre resources to send him to New York with the understanding that he would do what was necessary to bring each of his eight brothers and sisters over, one at a time, and that is exactly what he did over the following years. He opened his modest department store in 1920 and worked there most days, selling dry goods from stationery to pantyhose, until his death in 1969. Likewise, my grandfather worked in the store until it closed that year, as did his father until going off to Queens College. The opening of B Dry Goods on Franklin Ave thus represents the 4th generation of the family operating in the neighborhood.
You are a collector & a creative, so do you find it hard selling the work you exhibit? Don’t you just want to keep it all?
I love seeking out the artworks and books and other offerings we show at the gallery and I love the process of engaging with these items through research and curation and presentation. I also love seeing these things which are important and meaningful to me personally go on to similarly move, interest and inspire others. The pleasure of placing such items into (mostly – I hope!) good new homes generally far outstrips any of my personal ownership desires. While I do also collect in some areas, I’ve always tried to keep my collecting focuses separate from the types of materials in which I’m primarily dealing.
Do you think in this ‘age of digital’ the ownership & collecting of the physical has become even more essential?
I do, absolutely. We spend all day with the same gadgets but when we go home or look up from our phones, I think more and more people are realizing that we have a yearning and a need to see, touch, and smell real things. The pleasures of living with a painting or a rare book or manuscript hit on so many levels which are frankly not available in the digital universe.
Can you tell us about your upcoming exhibition “Fully Furnished”?
Fully Furnished is a fun show of roughly 40 works, in which we are pairing a new body of work by Jeannie Weissglass – a series of mostly very colorful and playful paintings and drawings which prominently feature antique tables, sofas, chairs and wash basins – with an assortment of actual works of collectible furniture and architectural design with unusual and notable provenance. Original pieces by such figures Jean Prouvé, John Baldessari, Giancarlo Piretto, Georges Jouve, Fernand Leger and Tony Duquette will be offered alongside even more unusual items, like an original bamboo and wicker chair used on the iconic Rick’s Café set in Casablanca, and tables and chairs from the collections of Andy Warhol, Igor Stravinsky, Wallace Stevens, Ringo Starr and others.
Which other new galleries would you recommend visiting?
I particularly like what’s going on at the gallery which opened last year in the Lower East Side run by Steven Power and Joshua Lowenfel, showing an interesting mix of outsider and folk art and some contemporary art.
Fully Furnished, recent paintings and drawings by NY-based artist Jeannie Weissglass in conversation with important works of furniture and architectural design with unusual and notable provenance, Opening March 10th, “B” Dry Goods