Polling Los Angeles art dealers for gallery recommendations yesterday, one of the names that came up most often was Nye + Brown, the new space started just last month by the New York tech mogul turned art dealer Tim Nye, who has specialized in postwar art from Southern California, like Finish Fetish and Light and Space, in recent years, and Lexi Brown, a longtime Angeleno who ran a gallery called The Happy Lion in L.A.’s Chinatown.
In New York, Mr. Nye’s gallery, Nyehaus, is located in a townhouse down on West 20th Street, a few blocks from West Chelsea’s main glut of galleries. In contrast, Nye + Brown is located in the heart of the Culver City art district, in the middle of a stretch of galleries that line South La Cienga Boulevard. Powerhouse Blum & Poe is just down the street, and Mandrake, the neighborhood’s longstanding watering hole, is located directly across the road.
The gallery’s exterior is an instantly iconic, deep orange. It’s impossible to miss. “That was our pick,” Mr. Nye told us over the phone yesterday from the Art Platform fair, which opens downtown this afternoon. “It’s a very California orange that goes perfectly with the blue sky.” There was talking in the background on the line; someone talking to the dealer. “Sorry, I just have to tell someone that this painting looks fine where it is,” he said. There was some discussion. “Let’s do that,” he said calmly.
The prime space was not on the market when Mr. Nye went looking for a location, but his new business partner, Ms. Brown, knew a savvy broker, who made the deal happen. “It was just blind luck,” Mr. Nye told us. “It’s ideal.” He admitted, “It’s really antithetical to how I think about exhibition spaces in New York. Here we have crazy amounts of traffic.”
Indeed, when Gallerist visited Culver City yesterday afternoon, it was the most crowded gallery on its block and people were taking long looks at the debut show, of automobile-inflected art, called “The Lord and the New Creatures,” which is filled with work by California artists like Ed Ruscha, Chris Burden and Judy Chicago, alongside some pieces by artists less associated with the state, like John Chamberlain and Dirk Skrebber. Going forward, Mr. Nye said, the gallery will split its schedule among late-career, mid-career and emerging artists.
Mr. Nye had considered just having a small outpost in the city, he said, “but there was such good momentum” that a larger space made sense. “I split my time half and half between L.A. and New York now,” he said. Showing work by many California artists, like Peter Alexander, Craig Kauffman and John Altoon, it made sense to have a presence in Los Angeles, the dealer noted. And business practicalities also played a factor.
“In terms of the work that I’ve been finding to buy or consign, it’s almost exclusively from collections from Southern California,” he told us. “But I’ve been building collections in New York.”