New Gallery in Town: The Freddy Interview

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When sophiajacob, an experimental artist-run space, closed last month, a number of artists expressed concern about the energy vacuum that would be left. There were also rumors floating around that a few NY-based artists were planning to take over the space to continue innovative programming in the tiny store front gallery.

I’m not exactly sure who is behind Freddy, the new  gallery opening up at 510 W. Franklin Street this Friday the 13th, but the first exhibit featuring paintings by NY-based Tisch Abelow and sculpture by LA-based Peter Harkawik looks promising.  It’s no coincidence that the one gallery in Baltimore named for a cleverly invented fictional persona is being replaced by another, but this angle provided creative distance for sj curators to play fast and loose with the rules of curation, so why complain?

Freddy’s first press release was decidedly weird, written like a casual letter, inviting guests to “come and visit him,” but I am optimistic about what this space may accomplish. In case you are wondering, the gallery is named after Freddy Krueger because, “Given its unique location outside of a major art metropolis, much of Freddy’s audience will be online. Outside of Baltimore, the gallery exists on the screen like Freddy Krueger exists in dreams.” Personally, I am hoping that the gallery focuses on the audience that actually lives here, but it’s probably hard to know what to expect when you are new in this weird town.

The good news is, whether Freddy is a real person or not, he answers his email and agreed to a quick interview. We look forward to their grand opening on Friday and hope that Baltimore exceeds their wildest dreams. Or nightmares. Welcome, Freddy!


Cara Ober: You are taking over the small gallery space on Franklin Street previously occupied by sophiajacob. What made you interested in starting a gallery in Baltimore? Your press release says the gallery is in a “unique location outside of a major art metropolis.” Why Baltimore?

Freddy: Baltimore is appealing because the pace isn’t frenetic like it is in New York and the cost of living won’t suck out your soul. We got a great deal on the Franklin Street space in large part due to the support of sophiajacob.

CO: Who is going to be running the gallery? It’s kind of weird to get emails from someone named Freddy who presumably does not exist. If you do exist, my apologies. From what I have been told, Josh Abelow will be curating the space with help. If the gallery prefers to operate under a fictional character, please explain why.

Freddy: We prefer to keep the back end of this project anonymous. We feel that is is more interesting to keep the focus on the exhibitions. Having a bit of anonymity in this world is such a rare thing and, for the time being, we would like to hold on to what we have in this regard.

CO: sophiajacob also operated via a fictional gallerist, and this was the only space in Baltimore working this way, and this brings up obvious comparisons. Should we expect an experimental curatorial agenda as well? Since you’re working out of the same space and under a similar construct, what do you see as a major difference between your agenda and that of sj’s curators?

Freddy: sophiajacob was great – we are big fans of what they did. We plan to present shows that would probably not happen in Baltimore otherwise.

CO: Your press release says “Five exhibitions are planned and it is possible that more will follow.” Can you describe some of the upcoming exhibits and/or your longer term curatorial goals for the space? Will you continue to show NY and LA based artists or Baltimore artists as well?

Freddy: We’re super excited about the grand opening on Friday the 13th. We’re finishing up the press release for the show and hopefully it’ll be on the site in the next 24 hours. We’d like to keep the rest of the programming under wraps because it is all subject to change.

Tisch Abelow. Untitled, 2014. Gouache, acrylic, and house paint on linen 32 x 24 inches

CO: Is Tisch Abelow a relative of Josh’s? How did you select the two artists for the inaugural exhibit at Freddy?

Freddy: Tisch Abelow is Joshua Abelow’s younger sister. We are excited about Tisch Abelow’s “Mr. Heart Man” paintings and we had the idea to do a two-person show with her work for the first show, but we didn’t know who the other artist would be. Then we met Peter Harkawik. We saw his work in “Particular Pictures” at The Suzanne Geiss Company a few weeks ago and got curious to see more so we went out to LA to visit his studio. Peter told us he had an idea for a new sculpture, which would deal with animation, but wasn’t animated. We liked the idea and thought it would make for an interesting pairing.

CO: Baltimore is a great city and we hope you like it here. One comment I have heard repeated from several NY-based artists is that it’s a city where artists get to be “real artists” without being corrupted by the art market.

In a recent interview, MICA’s new president, Sammy Hoi, claimed Baltimore is like Los Angeles decades ago, and that this is a good thing. Direct Quote: “Baltimore reminds me of LA a few decades ago, before it became the art capital it is now. Artists could make a decent living, free of market dynamics that are so powerful in New York and Los Angeles. It was a place where artists could be artists, come up with innovative ideas, incubating energy. This is ultimately what lifted LA. This is my view of Baltimore as an outsider.”

What’s your opinion on this? Is Freddy a commercial gallery or more of an experimental project space?

Freddy: What Sammy Hoi has to say is inspiring and we hope he’s right. New York is a double-edged sword. Of course, New York is wonderful in many ways, but on the other hand, it’s good to get out. It’s so commercial now – all you hear is gossip about who shows where and who bought or sold this or that. It drains the creative spirit. We hear so many artists in New York complaining, but it’s hard to leave for some reason – it’s like some sort of unspoken code you’re not supposed to break (unless you’re moving to LA). We prefer to use New York as an electrical socket, plugging in or out as needed. Freddy is primarily experimental in nature.

More information about Freddy Gallery here.

* This interview was conducted by Cara Ober, Editor at BmoreArt.

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