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Top 7 Artist-Run Galleries In The Lower East Side And Brooklyn

Top 7 Artist-Run Galleries In The Lower East Side And Brooklyn

Picture of Michaela Brady
Updated: 12 December 2015
While the Upper East Side may boast landmark museums such as the MoMa and Guggenheim, New York is laden with independent galleries. In the Lower East Side and Brooklyn, artist-run galleries have found a home. Creative endeavors in and of themselves, they understand the mindset of young artists, and create spaces where expression is unlimited. They also offer plentiful networking opportunities, competitions, and residencies for undiscovered talents to get their foot in the door.

Louis Eisner, Time Makes the Tune, May 15 - June 12, 2015 | Image Courtesy of The Still House Group
Louis Eisner, Time Makes the Tune, May 15 – June 12, 2015 | Image Courtesy of The Still House Group

The Still House Group

Still House is a rapidly expanding group of artists seeking to cultivate their work before diving headfirst into the city’s inundating visual arts community. With its new location in Chinatown, the smoldering creative spirit of SoHo combines with the throng of city goers, making this a prime showcase spot. It is this energy that attracts individuals ready to experiment, collaborate, and produce. In 2010, members of the collective took over an abandoned Department of Transportation office in TriBeCa, already a haven for emerging art, and transformed it into a studio and gallery space. This collective also offers three-month residencies in its current Red Hook location, in which artists take over studio spaces and contribute to an exhibition.

Soho Photo Gallery

Founded in 1971 by seven New York Times photographers, this gallery houses over 90 artists. Soho Photo’s focus is on fine art photography, and its artists experiment with a wide range of techniques and methods that demonstrate a great respect for and camaraderie with the craft. One artist manipulates a feature on Photoshop, while another commits himself to tintypes. From solo shows of a photographer’s oeuvre to exhibitions of competition submissions, this gallery is constantly filled to the brim with incredible images. They explore topics as classic as New York City street life, and as spectacular as the fragility of life. Upcoming exhibitions in September include the work of Ruben Natal-San Miguel and five other artists’ projects.


Operating under the philosophy that art should be available to everyone at all times, one of Glasshouse’s unique features is its monthly 24-Hour Fridays, where experimental performances, live pieces, and unannounced shows radiate from every room of this domestic space. Founders Lital Dotan and Eyal Perry believe in participation, showing how performance art is also a social activity, and that “art should be experienced in a place that allows staying.” Just as new neighbors navigate their house with cautious steps, this gallery allows viewers to embrace the unexpected with every new room. Along with open events and exhibitions, artists both international and domestic can submit to the Artist-in-Residence or Immersive Hosting Program, respectively.

Logo | Image Courtesy of SOLOWAY
Logo | Image Courtesy of SOLOWAY


In terms of artistic flexibility, Soloway bends and contorts itself to the whims of its exhibiting artists, while maintaining its small but enlivening space. For Graham Collins’ installation, Shade Tree, the gallery allowed him to replace its floors with red brick, creating a gallery wholly devoted to his project. Though the floors are no longer brick, there have since been many extraordinary exhibitions. In this modest gallery, each artist displays new approaches to classic inspirations—literary texts, old photographs—and great epiphanies expressed in a visual manner. Founded by four graduate artists, Soloway welcomes experimentation and transformation. The gallery also hosts film screenings and live events.

440 Gallery | Image Courtesy of 440 Gallery
440 Gallery | Image Courtesy of 440 Gallery

440 Gallery

Voted the ‘Best Gallery in Brooklyn’ in 2013 by The L Magazine, 440 Gallery is an artistic haven in Park Slope. A small collective of artists, each one representing a specific medium of visual expression—sculpture, drawing, painting, photography, installation, printing—provides a holistic experience for their visitors. Artists can be featured either in the main exhibition space or the Project Space. With ample exposure for every artist, this gallery attracts many locals, and makes an astounding effort to incorporate art into daily life. It hosts hands-on workshops for younger children, plays, craft talks, and open receptions for exhibition openings.


Another Williamsburg gem, this gallery was founded in 1994 and has expanded remarkably since then, with an additional space known as the ‘Boiler.’ Its high ceilings and industrial atmosphere provide a sense of limitlessness, and enough room for larger paintings, performances, and readings. One attribute of this gallery is its Flat File system, which is a collection of flat drawers containing artist portfolios. Founder Joe Amrhein believes original artwork should be available and accessible to anyone, even the smaller pieces that would not normally be displayed in a gallery. With a mature but adventurous approach, Pierogi is open to both emerging and mid-career artists.

Courtesy of Cinders Gallery
Courtesy of Cinders Gallery/Pattern ::: Chaos


Though based in Brooklyn, Cinders describes itself as nomadic and project-based, never quite finding a home but always being reborn out of the ashes. Established in 2004, this mobile gallery has interpreted the act of creating a gallery or performance an artistic project unto itself. The art featured is dazzling, boisterous, and exciting. Be on the lookout for where and when Cinders will pop up next; this gallery is certainly worth following, from its exhibitions to the crew members and featured artists.

By Michaela Brady