L.E.S. Exhausted by Chelsea’s Art Scene

David Cohn of the New York Sun considers what leads both new and established gallerists to forge a new art district.What impact, if any, does the novelty of their surroundings have on the art they produce, what art gets shown, and how that art is experienced? He considers Chelsea a victim of its own success, and wonders whether the Lower East Side can handle the challenges of a burgeoning art district.

Relative affordability, the buzz of the new New Museum, and the company of others are the obvious incentives of the Lower East Side. But more to the point is a sense of exhaustion with the behemoth art district of the last 15 years, Chelsea. There are several hundred galleries in western Chelsea, between 14th and 29th streets, and between Tenth and Twelfth avenues. Although condominiums have arrived with a vengeance, there is little by the way of residential infrastructure: few places to eat, or even to grab a coffee, let alone take a break from art to try on a frock or buy a book.