The 7 Best Galleries On Manhattan's Lower East Side

© Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/WikiCommons
© Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/WikiCommons
Photo of Dana deLaski
8 September 2016

Art is constantly evolving, and in the past few decades, the Lower East Side of Manhattan has exploded as an art destination in the city. It’s not as high-brow as Chelsea; the galleries welcome emerging and experimental artists, and yet it’s becoming a respected art neighborhood. Most of the galleries in the area have opened since the year 2000, and many share the same name as their owners who, more often than not, have extensive art backgrounds and excellent tastes. It seems that many of them simply grew tired of the scene in Chelsea and wanted a space to show what they want, and right now, that space is the Lower East Side. There are over 200 galleries in the neighborhood, but here are a few to get you started.


Art Gallery
Founded in 1998, WhiteBox is unique in the attention it gives to performance and site-specific art. Just two years after it opened, it was nominated for ‘Best Group Show’ by the International Art Critics Association and has since become known as a space where the surrounding community of the LES and Chinatown is encouraged to engage with modern and contemporary art. WhiteBox is an advocate for the avant-garde, the underrepresented, and the experimental, and it’s making it accessible to all.


Art Gallery, School
Bitforms is dedicated to the digital arts, and this emphasis makes it a fascinating visit in the modern, digital age of today. While many galleries in this neighborhood support modern, non-traditional artists, this one is unique in that its focus is on multimedia and technology, showing work that uses software, the internet, and social media. Its exhibits are relevant to anyone living in the 21st century, are often interactive, and will make you view the technology you use every day in new ways.

Lesley Heller Workspace

Art Gallery
Opened in 2010, the Lesley Heller Workspace is, like others in this neighborhood, a gallery that promotes emerging contemporary artists. There are two separate spaces in the gallery, allowing for dual exhibitions, and many of the shows are guest-curated. This allows for unique conversations and multiple viewpoints (from the multiple collectors, curators, and artists), and this is precisely the gallery’s aim.

Sasha Wolf Gallery

Art Gallery
The Sasha Wolf Gallery is a modern photography gallery highlighting emerging artists and even selling limited edition prints. Sasha Wolf has a background in photography and a love for it, and she tends to show work that’s less conceptual and more focused on the real world. Recently, however, the space has been revamped, and the gallery is getting rid of its exhibition space and will be focusing on traveling exhibitions, pop-ups, and other collaborations more suitable to the modern and digital age.

James Fuentes

The James Fuentes Gallery is run by James Fuentes, a Lower East Side native who opened his gallery in 2010. His goal is to showcase both established and up-and-coming artists equally, not discriminating against where an artist went to school, how famous they are, or what medium they use. His goal is to allow the art to speak for itself, for it to be exhibited simply, and he’s not afraid to show work that’s eclectic and pushes boundaries.


Art Gallery
Canada has become a destination for contemporary art, and they often show sculptural exhibits or installations – a welcome change from the two-dimensional art so often shown. Founded in 1999, it was one of the first galleries in the neighborhood to establish itself, and in its early years, it was known as an anti-establishment haven where artists could express themselves. Now, it’s highly respected across the art world.

Steven Harvey

Art Gallery
Another contemporary gallery, Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects was established in 2007 on the Upper East Side and has since relocated to the Lower East Side. Right now, the gallery is showing a solo exhibition by artist Clintel Steed, an artist from Salt Lake City. The gallery typically shows contemporary painters, yet their style is less avant-garde than some of their super funky neighbors.

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