New York’s best-known gallery district is Chelsea, with 200-plus galleries within an eight-block radius on the west side of Manhattan. The breadth and range (and occasional audacity) of the art here is formidable, with powerhouse galleries like Gagosian sharing the windswept streets with plenty of up-and-coming spaces, where many emerging artists have their New York debuts.
The best way to experience Chelsea is by wandering and window-watching; before long, you’ll be drawn in. The airy Agora Gallery, which has been here since 1984, features memorable local and international works, from Andalusian- style Art-Nouveau pieces depicting men in swirling capes and women draped in lacy shawls to moody paintings of the Scandinavian coastline bathed in the northern lights.
The long-running Barbara Gladstone Gallery, a model of industrial chic with its grey metal façade, cement floors, and snow-white walls, showcases plenty of bankable artists, along with rising stars. Exhibitions here have featured works by 15 artists of different generations who explored themes of aspiration and frustration; an overview of the work of artist Mario Merz, a leading figure in the Arte Povera (“poor art”) movement of the 1960s and 70s; and Jean-Luc Mylayne’s large color photographs of birds in their natural environments in New Mexico and Texas.
The risk-taking Zach Feuer Gallery is at the forefront of New York’s art scene, introducing such artists as Dana Schutz, whose thought-provoking series “Self Eaters and the People Who Love Them” has made her a name to watch.
Other exhibitions have included Tom McGrath’s aerial paintings of the East Coast suburbs and urbanized southern California. Raise the entertainment value by touring Chelsea on a Thursday night, when galleries often celebrate the opening of new shows with plenty of free-flowing wine, nibbles, and chatter. These lively events will offer you the chance to mingle with other art-lovers, meet artists, and perhaps walk out with a signed work of art.
Agora Gallery 530 West 25th Street; subway: C or E to 23rd Street; 11am–6pm Tue–Sat;
Barbara Gladstone Gallery 515 West 24th Street; subway: C or E to 23rd Street; 10am–6pm Tue–Sat;
Gagosian Gallery 555 West 24th Street; subway: C or E to 23rd Street; 10am–6pm Tue–Sat;
Zach Feuer Gallery 530 West 24th Street; subway: C or E to 23rd Street; 10am–6pm Tue–Sat;