Brooklyn is becoming a bustling hotspot for the arts and the 440 Gallery is one space that is dedicated to showcasing new and unique visual art from a variety of artists. In fact, the gallery even occasionally performs play to help performance artists display their craft, too.
Located in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the 440 Gallery is an artist-run space that has been dedicated to the creation, exhibition and sale of a wide range of work since 2005. The artist members range from emerging to mid-career, and practice in a broad spectrum of styles and media including: painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, assemblage, and installation. Recently Nancy Lunsford, the co-founder of the 440 Gallery, spoke to the Examiner about her experience working with the gallery and her hopes for its future:
M.M.: How did you become interested in art?
Nancy Lunsford (N.L.): I have been an artist since my childhood. I was encouraged by my family even as a child. My grandmothers were both quilt makers, and taught me to sew. My grandfather carved small objects as a hobby, mostly tiny violins and other instruments, and shared his process with me. My father was a professional musician but an amateur artist and he taught me and encouraged me quite a bit when I was young.
M.M.: How and when was the 440 Gallery started and why was that name chosen?
N.L.: We started the gallery in 2005. Before we were here, the former tenant was an artist who used the space to teach art. Her business name was Gesture 440 as the building address was 440 Sixth Avenue. We ran through a lot of names for the gallery and eventually went with 440. We found out there was already a Gallery 440 somewhere in Georgia, and an antique store in Manhattan called Gallery 440 so we switched it and called ourselves 440 Gallery.
M.M.: What styles of art does the 440 Gallery favor?
N.L.: We like to have a variety of media and styles. We are photographers, painters, printmakers, sculptors and other media. We also like to have a broad representation of styles: abstract, realistic, graphic illustration, conceptual and more.
M.M.: How does someone submit work to possibly be featured at the 440 Gallery? Are there any fees involved?
N.L.: We are an artist run gallery and try to limit members to no more than 15 or 16 members. We can’t have any more than that or it would be too long between solo shows. When someone leaves the gallery, we put out a call for new members. We interview the applicants and offer membership to those who meet our criteria. We are looking for serious artists with a professional practice and, as we are an artist run space, we also look for people who can work with us, installing shows, doing PR and other jobs, and who are within commuting distance. We also try to keep a balance of styles and media among our members. Other than our own members showing their artwork, we have two juried group shows a year. These are open to anyone to apply, the juror, who is independent and not a member of the gallery, decides who is included in those particular shows. The members share the costs and responsibilities of running the gallery. We all pay a monthly fee which goes toward our rent, utilities and insurance. In addition members are expected to contribute time toward certain jobs in running the gallery.
M.M.: What kind of work/mediums do you hope to see more of in the future?
N.L.: We like quality work in just about any style or media but we also like to see experimental work— something that takes risks. I would like to see work in video or work in a more political vein.
M.M.: To date, what has been the most rewarding experience involving working with the 440 Gallery?
N.L.: There is a wonderful sense of community here. Making art can be very isolating after art school and having a group of artists to share resources and support is invaluable. Part of this support is a secure environment where we are challenged to grow and take risks as artists.
M.M.: Where do you hope the 440 Gallery will be ten years from now?
N.L.: First, I would just like to still be here! It’s difficult to keep a gallery open in this city and if we are still standing 20 years after opening, that in itself is a great accomplishment. Along with our longevity, I hope we still have great artists and, of course, fame and riches.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become an artist and/or striving to open a gallery?
N.L.: That would take much too much time and space to be answered here. But briefly, artists need to establish a daily practice and set achievable goals. I actually work with artists one on one as an “art coach” to help with this. Opening a gallery is another thing altogether. If anyone wants to open a gallery, that’s great. I believe the best way to open a gallery is to partner with someone. It takes a lot of passion and it takes a practical understanding of running a business. It also helps to have knowledge of art and general gallery practices. You have to decide what kind of gallery, where, and what artists will exhibit there. Visit galleries, speak to gallery owners and managers, speak to artists about their exhibition experiences. The more you know, the better.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
N.L.: There are events scheduled almost every Sunday at 4:40 pm– we call it Sundays@4:40—talks, music, a young artist’s workshop. We have been having some really interesting artists talk lately. Our current show, which just opened tonight, is a group show of our new members. We just welcomed six new members to the gallery last summer and the show is absolutely fantastic. The six artists and the curator will talk on Sunday, February 28 and I am looking forward to that. Right now we are beginning our preparation for our annual theme show this year, which will be in July. The theme is a very exciting one and we have a juror who should attract a lot of attention. I can’t reveal it yet but the press release and first call for artists will go out at the end of this month.
* * * * *
To learn more about the 440 gallery visit their website and Facebook and/or follow them on Instagram @ 440gallery