Art-lovers from all over town may be excused for being a little confused by the Family Business gallery on West 21st Street in Chelsea. For one thing, it’s tiny. Like, smaller than any room in your home, including that half-bath off the front hall (if you have one of those). I mean, yes, the ceilings are probably 15 feet high here, so there is some wall area to work with, but it’s almost comical when you enter the “space” and you’re basically standing on top of the “front desk” intern who has to make do with a folding chair, laptop, and portable heater.
For another thing, the exhibitions at Family Business seem kind of slapdash, as if you were suddenly transported to a Soho squat circa 1982 (not that there’s anything wrong with that), especially when compared to all the super-slick heavy hitters like Gagosian and Paula Cooper that populate that block.
So what’s going on here?
Don’t Let the Small Size Fool You, Family Business Means Business (Serious Art)
Here’s the thing: as scruffy as it may seem, Family Business has got some some serious clout (and money) behind it, in the form of co-conspirators Maurizio Cattelan, the international art star who killed it at the Guggenheim just two years ago, and Massimiliano Gioni, the leading curator at the New Museum who also ran last year’s Venice Biennale. In other words, these are big-time art-world insiders who are throwing all those crazy opening-night parties that spill out onto 21st Street. So don’t be dissuaded by initial appearances from putting Family Business into your regular gallery-going rotation.
There are some very interesting things going on here: some good outsider-ish art, and some cool ways to think about and publicize said work. And if the idea of attending a closing-night party at which all of the art on exhibition is burned in a trash can on the street while skaters pass out free cans of beer appeals to you, definitely get on the Family Business invitation/exhibition list.
Cold Castle at Family Business: A “Life Installation Performance Experience”
Anyway, currently at Family Business is one of the most unusual (and fun!) Chelsea gallery shows I’ve seen in a while, “a small-scale life installation performance experience” in which members of the once awesome, recently shuttered Cold Castle building are recreating their former home/communal studio space in the closet-like gallery.
Over the course of 17 days, through March 9, dozens of Cold Castle folks will come and create and work and eat and play and perform and, basically, LIVE at Family Business. They’ve brought their “kitchen”, and a piano, and a beautiful chandelier. They’ve constructed a dining table for the space, and built two working studio lofts.
And in addition to hanging everything they create on the walls of Family Business, they’ll also putting on performances and throwing parties galore, including pot luck meals, movie screenings, “sage baths for passerbys”, cocktail gatherings, and an “all-night Colombian Rave” to say goodbye. Sounds like an eventful couple of weeks. Which is kind of business-as-usual for Family Business.
Cold Castle at Family Business will run through March 9. Family Business located on 21st Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, and keeps standard Chelsea gallery hours (Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.), except when it doesn’t. More info about Family Business on their website, and a full schedule of Cold Castle goings-on here.