Apartments-Turned-Galleries Growing Trend

Bushwick building lobby features artworkIs the kitty litterbox "art"? It might be mistaken as such if you turn your apartment into an art gallery. Or perhaps that charcoal drawing in the building lobby will entice renters.

Some landlords are trying to tap into the creative class market by selling the "artistic lifestyle," while wanna-be art curators are turning their rentals into ad hoc galleries.

As the housing markets change, so does the role of art. Two recent articles highlight distinct roles art is playing right now in apartment living.

The New York Times reporter Penelope Green focused on the trend of using empty, or even occupied, apartments as alternative gallery spaces. She writes, "For a grab-bag of reasons - economic, philosophical and purely pragmatic - a new wave of gallerists are turning their homes into art galleries."

It's no surprise apartments-turned-galleries have popped up over the years in Boston, Chicago, Miami, and other locations. Critics of the movement tend to be traditional gallery owners who are saddled with the extra expenses of business insurance and overhead. They fear direct competition from the lower-overhead apartments-turned-galleries.

Strictly speaking, hosting a public gallery in your apartment is illegal if you charge admission or sell other artists' work directly (the exception being sale of your own artwork).

Building owners are looking again at artists to provide a sense of "lifestyle" to a prospective rental apartment. Metro had a story on paintings hung in temporary galleries in empty condo and apartment lobbies in Bushwick, Brooklyn. An example is the 143-unit Castle Braid which went rental after the plan to go condo tanked. The building had two floors of gallery space this autumn.

Local artist Chloe Bass is quoted as saying the marketing campaigns are in "search of lifestyle, not life."

Stay tuned to see how the inventory of vacant apartments and homes may impact the availability of more art venues.

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