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Devoted to the photographic upkeep of LGBTQ+ history, ClampArt has exhibited and displayed a broad array of artists for over two decades. Here its owner shares his story, approach, and advice for emerging artists
The year 2000 marked a turning point for New York-based gallerist Brian Grip. After turning 30 and becoming his MA in Essential Studies in Modern Artwork from Columbia University, he had reached a crossroads. “I had been working as movie director of Owen Gallery at the Upper East Side, plus wanted to get more involved with modern art, photography, and dealing with living artists, ” says Clamp. “I decided to take the plunge and start my own gallery, not really fully realising what I was getting into. ”
That fall, he opened up ClampArt , and worked as a personal dealer from his West 27th Street loft. A devoted practitioner of photography, Clamp also spent time at The Camera Club of New You are able to (now known as Baxter St ), getting to know a number of photographers whose work he admired. By means of these relationships, Clamp created the foundations for the gallery program.
In early 2003, Clamp signed a lease for a commercial space on West 25th Street, just as Chelsea was becoming the middle of the downtown art planet. “I was able to get a terrain floor space in Chelsea pertaining to my first gallery with no backing, ” he says.
Inside June 2003, Clamp introduced what would become a career-defining exhibition: Boys associated with Summer: Photographs of approximately Men . The group show included work by Robert Giard, Horst P. Horst, George Platt Lynes, Robert Mapplethorpe, Duane Michals, and Jack port Pierson, among others. For the exhibit poster, Clamp chose to print Rich Thompson’s 1963 picture of LGBTQ artist plus activist Mel Roberts (1923-2007). This drew long overdue accolades for the artist, who all had faced decades associated with state persecution for his homoerotic work.
“The gallery picture was different 20 years back; people used to be afraid of LGBTQ artists and issues, ” Clamp says. “ Boys of Summer started to solidify who all I was as a gallerist and set the direction for the photo gallery program. ” Driven with a strong interest in portraiture plus figurative work, alongside concerns of marginalisation and the fight for civil rights, Clamp represents his curatorial process because “intuitive and deeply private. It comes down to what you respond to. ”
In 2016, ClampArt moved to its current location, a 2, 750-square-foot space with 19-foot ceilings over the main floor at 247 West 29th Street. Grip has represented a broad array of artists over the past two decades including Mariette Pathy Allen, David Bidgood, Daniel Handal, Meryl Meisler, Pipo Nguyen-duy, Lori Nix/Kathleen Gerber, and Lissa Rivera. This month, the particular gallery presents Meryl Meisler: PARADISE LOST Bushwick Era Disco , looking back at New York in the late-70s and early-80s.
“It seems simple and straightforward… but there’s so much to be gained by escaping and connecting directly with individuals. ”
As the gallery’s roster expands, Clamp considers taking on new artists based on the way their own work fits within the organic whole. For artists seeking representation, he says: “[Build] your network of people to show your work, develop tips, help you expand your network, and lead you to opportunities. ”
Most importantly, Clamp notes the particular impact of engaging straight with the gallery: going to open positions, getting to know artists on the roster, and becoming a part of the local community. “When I have a hole in my exhibition schedule or was curating a group exhibition, people who come to mind are those whom I know personally or have voiced to recently, ” he admits that. “It seems so basic [and] straightforward… but there’s so much to become gained by getting out plus connecting directly with people. ”