Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rhys Gallery is leaving for LA

“Do you need a space like this in Boston? Is there support for it?” – Colin Rhys

Rhys Gallery in Boston will close at the end of its current exhibition on June 19 and move to Los Angeles, according to gallery owner Colin Rhys.

He plans to open his new gallery, Rhys Mendes, in Los Angeles in March 2009 with partners who run Mendes Bahia Arte Contemporánea in Brazil. The upshot is this will add Brazilian artists to his roster.

Rhys says his decision was driven by what he described as a “lack of support, just from the community engaging in new things" and lack of critical dialogue in Boston, as well as the financial advantages of moving to a city which offers what he sees as a more receptive audience for the artists and art he shows – in particular medium- to large-scale installations.

“I don’t want it to come off like I don’t like Boston,” Rhys says. “I’m just doing what’s best for my gallery and my business and my artists.”

Though he adds that Boston weather is “too cold.”

“My issue is not sales,” he says. He’s looking for a city that’s more exciting, more fun than Boston. His impending departure seems to be a classic example of Boston’s difficulty in holding onto talent.

The 23-year-old grew up in suburban San Francisco and came to Boston to study art and “entrepreneurial leadership” at Tufts and the Museum School. He started his gallery in his Northampton Street loft in 2004, putting on “funky group shows” while still in school, and moved to his current location at 401 Harrison Ave. in the fall of 2006.

Rhys says he spent the past three months jetting between art fairs and meeting with clients in Dubai, Paris, Zurich, Frankfurt, Mexico City, Los Angeles and New York.

“I’m starting now to finally make money at these art fairs. You can do really well. You can make $200,000 in a weekend,” Rhys says. “…I’ve also lost money. I lost a shitload of money in New York. It’s a gambling business.”

“I was ambitious to do something” in Boston, Rhys says. “I wouldn’t have built this space if I didn’t believe in this city. … I felt this energy happening. And I wanted to move it forward, to be a world-class contemporary city.”

But he finds that Boston is “a very academic institutional city. I think that is somewhat inhibiting.” Just finding homes for large artworks in Boston is difficult, Rhys says. “You cannot put an 8 by 10 foot painting in a Comm. Ave. brownstone.” He reiterates an observation that is frequently heard from local art dealers: major Boston collectors prefer to buy of town – in New York, at art fairs, abroad – rather than here in Boston. LA, he says, is “more supportive. It creates more interest around what you’re doing. It’s also the critical reviews that are there. There are a lot bigger galleries that bring bigger reviewers, bigger collectors.”

“At the end of the day, do you need a space like this in Boston? Is there support for it? We do 90 percent of our sales not in this gallery,” Rhys says.

“I want to be a global gallery,” Rhys says. “I think Camilo [Alvarez of Sampson Projects] is the only one that’s even gotten reviewed in Artforum. It just doesn’t happen. I want to be a global gallery with global artists. When you’re doing 80 or 90 percent of your business outside your gallery you have to look at what’s going on.”

  • My initial March report on rumors that Rhys Gallery might be closing, and a longer essay on Boston’s current gallery shakeup. Also, Big Red & Shiny’s April brief that Rhys would close.
  • Rhys Gallery’s last exhibit here features photos and videos by Judith Larson from May 8 to June 19, 2008. The Cambridge artist presents black and white photos of naked lady dancers, contortionists and models with images of sound waves, thumbprints, maps and other dazzling patterns projected onto their bodies.
  • My review of the Miracle 5 show at Rhys Gallery in February 2007.
  • My review of Cristi Rinklin’s show at Rhys Gallery in December 2006 and January 2007.


Blogger mark phelan said...

really interesting comments from colin. sometimes i think a lot of what he has to say comes from a serious case of the early-20-something bravado, but his comments leave me wondering if he doesnt actually have something here. is boston in the midst of a crisis of identity? and why does all the good homegrown talent have to leave home to make a living? some of us try to live at home and have our work represent us in other markets, but that's a hassle too.

but who the hell wants to live in LA?

May 23, 2008 at 10:01 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home