Kristen Dodge



Your gallery just opened in early September, and you’ve already had three shows. What kind of schedule do you see for the gallery going forward?

We opened with a group show of 12 artists, to introduce our programming and invite people to see our space. There was no driving curatorial concept except to make an introduction. The first show of our more formal programming was “Dave Cole: Unreal City,” the artist’s New York debut. We produced a catalog encompassing the past 10 years of his practice and featuring significant works from our show. It was the first catalogue I’ve done, and turned out to be a great way to familiarize people with Dave’s work beyond his Knitting Machine (2005) at MASS MoCA. Our next show, after Pulse in Miami, is with Triiibe: identical triplets who are an artist collaborative.

I like to plan exhibitions one year in advance, leaving some gaps to fill in along the way. Part of the excitement of being a gallery is that there is necessary bending and flexing that happens in our planning. It’s one of the things that keeps galleries current, gives us relevance, and distinguishes us from institutional programming. Most of our shows will run about five weeks. We’ll have about eight exhibition cycles per year, and will often install more than one show at a time.

What was your background prior to moving to New York this past summer?

I went to Brown, and I have a dual degree in visual art and English. I spent the summer between my junior and senior years in New York working for [art and culture journal] Cabinet, and worked there again after graduating. I was their office manager, cat petter, essay writer, jack-of-all-trades. After working there for about a year, I moved back to Boston and taught K-4 art at the Boston Renaissance Charter School and studied at the Museum School. I started working at Rotenberg, a gallery in Boston, in 2004, and became the director in 2005. All of the artists on the DODGEgallery roster are artists I helped bring to the Rotenberg program; I’ve developed strong working relationships with each of them over the years.

When did you start plotting to open your own gallery?

I’ve wanted to do this since before I ever even worked at a gallery. Then I started working at Rotenberg, stayed for six years and had no reason to leave. But I always knew I wanted to start my own business, and the time came to make the call last December. From there it was a pretty rapid transition of extracting myself from a very happy situation to moving forward with my own ambitions. It wasn’t easy, but it was what I needed to do.

How did you find the new space? Did you know you wanted to be in the Lower East Space?

I spent months looking for the right space and knew it when I found it. Our space has two levels, one overlooking the next, natural light from both ends, and several memorable architectural elements. I had talked with Zach Feuer about his space in Chelsea after catching wind that he was moving, but ultimately decided that the Lower East Side is a better place for me to be.

Since the New Museum opened on the Bowery three years ago, there’s been a lot of talk about the neighborhood’s gallery scene, and how it compares to Chelsea. Have you felt the sense of common purpose?

We have great neighbors. I had a strong community of peers in Boston and wasn’t expecting to find one so quickly here. But other dealers have been unbelievably helpful, enthusiastic and open. Nine new galleries opened this September, half of which are within two blocks of us. I’ve been blown away by the number of people walking into our gallery on a daily basis.

When you’re visiting galleries in the Lower East Side, you don’t always know what you’re going to find. There’s a sense of discovery and anticipation, and there’s time to process what you see. While the barrage of galleries in Chelsea is efficient, the relentless pace and lack of breathing room between them induces a numbing, window-shopping effect after a while. Here, it’s a bit like a treasure hunt with non-art input between galleries.
Tell us about the shows that just opened [on view through Dec. 23].

The exhibitions we just opened are the first expression of my interest in juxtaposing lesser known artists with more established artists, and utilizing the two gallery spaces we have to structure the programming.

In the front room is Ellen Harvey’s “New York Beautification” project and Jason Middlebrook’s series of planks leaning against the wall. Ellen painted oval vignettes of European landscapes onto public surfaces around New York where there was existing graffiti. The current show is a grid of photographs documenting the entire project and spanning two years. Jason’s planks are both paintings and sculptures. Sometimes he paints in a bold, surface-claiming manner, and other times his mark-making is much more detailed, remaining true to the wood grain, or imposing an abstract geometry over the surface.

ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES (aka Doug Weathersby) has the entire inner gallery, which has 25-foot ceilings. There’s an installation of empty frames, an enormous wall mural made from old paint and text from paint cans donated from various basements, and a series of his “Logs,” involving photographs and daily to-do lists from the past 13 months.

Finally, Tim Davis has a hilarious and unexpected piece in the upstairs bathroom. Don’t miss that if you come by!

Anything else you want our readers to know?

I like to tell people that our space used to be a sausage factory and we still have the original iron sausage press.