by Naomi Nevitt
While the Lower East Side has savored its fair share of hype over the past few years—from the rebellious beginnings as a skate-punk mecca to its recent emergence as a blue chip design destination—the area south of Delancey has always been somewhat on the cusp of the real action. But with the recent opening of the New Museum, i.e.: the area's new beacon of the arts, the Lower East Side (and its bustling neighbor Chinatown) is undergoing yet another renaissance. The quarter is now being steered by the emerging art scene and is frequently being touted the next Chelsea. Yet, never one to welcome homogeneity—especially the white cube variety—the neighborhood succeeds in preserving its rough-and tumble, under-the-radar persona that makes it a downtown stalwart.
James Fuentes LLC
At just a year old, wunderkind gallery James Fuentes has pushed the limits of the Lower East Side art scene with his off-the-radar Lower Manhattan storefront and super-hip (and critically acclaimed) exhibitions by Chinatown-based talent. The neighborhood-focused roster of artists includes art rockers Gang Gang Dance's Lizzi Bougatos and Brian DeGraw, Agathe Snow and William Stone. 35 St. James Place, 212-577-1201
Former Marianne Boesky employee Siobhan Lowe founded Never Work in October to exhibit up-and-coming local talent. With only three shows under her belt, the gallerist fills the shoebox-size Henry Street space with high-impact pieces from psychedelic oversized paintings by Ariel Dill to elaborate 2-D rope works by Christian Sampson. 191 Henry Street, 212-228-9206
Founded in June 2006 by Victoria Donner and Anne Maffei, V&A shows an inspired roster of emerging artists who, as Donner notes, "moved to New York to create something peculiarly New York." The exhibitions that, to date, focus on painting and works on paper, have featured local up-and-coming artists, including Ryan Hixenbaugh, Megan Pflug, Scott Taylor, and Selma Hafizovic. 98 Mott Street #206, 212-966-5754
E-Flux's Pawn Shop Part art-project, part functioning not-for-profit-retail store, the Pawn Shop was founded in October by artists Julieta Aranda, Liz Linden and Anton Vidokle who took over e-flux's storefront on Ludlow Street to host a different kind of art exhibition—a literal pawnshop where artworks are submitted by artists for cash, and if not reclaimed after 30 days, placed for sale exclusively by the shop. Starting with a who's-who list of over 60 contributing artists, from Paul Chan and Rirkrit Tiravanija to Lawrence Weiner and Andrea Zittel, the shop opened its mission to the public in November, allowing anyone who wanted to sell their art to stop by and receive fast cash. 53 Ludlow Street, 212-619-3356