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Running a NYC Gallery during a Pandemic

When New York City shut down as a result of Covid-19 sweeping the world, art galleries, like many other business in New York ceased to operate. However, almost seven months since the beginning of the pandemic, New York has settled into a new normal. With stricter restrictions than most of the country, New York City has taken strong efforts at contact tracing, mask wearing, and public education on health effects of Covid-19.
By Isabella Ballew

Gallery Assistant, Van Der Plas Gallery, NYC Van Der Plas Gallery is a contemporary art gallery in New York City. And has been so for over 25 years. It features works by emerging, outsider and academically trained artists. Van Der Plas Gallery founder, Adriaan Van Der Plas, left his hometown of Vienna, Austria in 1980, after extensive traveling throughout the Americas. He chose to settled in New York City. His first gallery,  “Adriaan” was located in Gramercy Park. In 1992, the gallery moved to Pier 17, at 89 South Street, New York, NY and became Van Der Plas Gallery. After twenty years of being located at Pier 17, the gallery closed its doors due to extensive damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. Today, Van Der Plas Gallery is located at 156 Orchard Street in the Lower East Side. You can visit the gallery by appointment, 7 days a week or take a virtual tour of their current or past exhibitions here: https://www.artland.com/galleries/van-der-plas-gallery. For more information and updates visit: Web: vanderplasgallery.com Instagram: @vanderplasnyc Facebook: @vanderplasgallery

Carefully opening up

Due to these restrictions, New York has gotten its virus numbers under control and through a carefully implemented phased approach resume certain business operations; thus in New York City, some art galleries have begun to reopen. The Van der Plas Gallery in the Lower East Side of Manhattan is one of these galleries.

Exhibition “Under the Mask”

Shift in offer = shift in clients

Running an art gallery in the middle of a pandemic comes with its own unique set of challenges. With restrictions on how many people can enter an enclosed space in New York City, Van der Plas Gallery is taking extra precautions in making sure to preserve the safety of both the people coming to view exhibitions as well as the staff of the gallery. While normally Van der Plas Gallery is open throughout the week, during the pandemic the gallery has shifted to an appointment only format. In effect, the shift has actually succeeded in making sure more serious buyers and collectors are in liaison with the gallery, in contrast to the former casual atmosphere with most people physically walking into the gallery, without necessarily having any intention of purchasing an artwork.

Exhibition “Quo Vadis” in Artland 3D view

Technical evolution and effects that will most likely remain, post pandemic

During the pandemic it has also made sense to shift to having more of an online presence, both in increasing social media traffic and shifting to online exhibition platforms. In partnering with Artland 3D, a virtual gallery space, the Van der Plas Gallery has an avenue to reach people not yet comfortable with visiting the gallery in person, as well as international buyers that have never had access to physically viewing the work, who can now view the show as a whole rather than disembodied pieces accompanying descriptive text. In partnering with a videographer we are able to tell the story of the exhibition, rather than just showcasing the work. As a video gives the audience a feel for the exhibit in terms of layout, and also in showcasing theme. While the pandemic has brought hardships, certain innovations initially built out of necessity will likely remain, online integration has long been a necessity in the gallery sphere, constantly increasing the accessibility between audience, artist, and gallery.

Sign ‘O the Times by Dee Dee

Political and cultural movement

Our gallery content has also shifted during the pandemic, as a gallery always must have an ear to political and cultural movements occurring throughout the world and Van der Plas Gallery shows have reflected these movements from shows like Under the Mask, directly referencing the pandemic to the current show Bullshit focusing on the political turmoil currently taking place in the United States. In culmination of the destructive nature of US politics over the last four years, BULLSHIT (a visual and poetic art fusion event) speaks finality into the future of an unchecked America. Through the lens of contemporary street art, BULLSHIT strips away the layers of political discourse in revelation of truth and compassion. Now more than ever, BULLSHIT urges the general public to consider the fragility of our current state, and how to work for a more empathetic future.

Upcoming show “BULLSHIT”

New times calls for market adaptation

Adriaan Van der Plas, the gallery owner is no stranger to difficult times, having lost his first gallery due to extensive damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, Adriaan knows how to restart and rebuild. In continuing to run Van der Plas Gallery during a global pandemic, we have first and foremost maintained an air of optimism about the future of the gallery as well as the future of the art world in general. During these hard times, as more people no longer retain the expendable income to purchase work, we must focus on both being available to a larger market and also being considerate and empathetic to artists that no longer have the ability to exhibit as frequently or as easily as before. As more and more businesses begin to reopen, people that left the city begin to return, the foot traffic in front of the gallery resumes, and slowly but steadily life goes on.

Visit the latest show “BULLSHIT”, virtually, here: https://www.artland.com/exhibitions/bullshit-d9acec

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