Monday, March 2, 2009

Honey Space Turns One

Installation shot from Tiberius. Photo courtesy of Chadwick Tyler.

When Honey Space opened last year in New York's posh Chelsea district, the scrappy new art gallery raised more than a few eyebrows-- mostly because its founder, Thomas Beale (who is also an artist), announced it would run sans staff most days. Yes, Beale and the other artists who planned to show work at Honey Space were going to do the unheard of: They were simply going to trust visitors not to steal or vandalize the art. In fact, that was the whole point.

"This is kind of a radical idea for New York City, where we have such a security-conscious culture," Beale told me when I interviewed him on opening day for ARTINFO. "To do something where you put complete trust in people, and to see whether people end up respecting it or not, is a powerful idea."

A year later, Beale still thinks the idea is powerful, and, besides a few minor incidents (someone stole the guest book and Beale once discovered a confused man sleeping off his hangover behind one of the exhibits), people have generally behaved themselves.

Honey Space has hosted some amazing exhibitions by top-notch artists during the past year, including my personal favorite, this creepy-fabulous installation by Swoon and Tennessee Jane Watson. The current show, "Tiberius," a collection of haunting and achingly beautiful portraits by Chadwick Tyler (running through March 14), is also one of the best.

I recently caught up with Beale, who said Honey Space will most likely close within the next couple of months. The leaseholder, with whom Beale currently has a deal to use the warehouse space for free, is planning to develop the building. If you haven't checked out Honey Space yet, this might be your last chance to experience one of the most heartfelt, innovative arts endeavors in the city.

"I knew it wasn't going to last forever," Beale told me, chatting by phone a few weeks ago. "And that's okay. I still think it's one of the best things I've ever done."

For more information about Honey Space, also take a look at this article from The New York Times.

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