Former Deitch Projects Executive Director to Open SoHo Gallery

When Jeffrey Deitch closed his eponymous gallery in SoHo last year to become director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (LA MOCA), the New York art world, and particularly the SoHo neighborhood, was widely acknowledged to have lost one of its galvanizing forces. As of next week, new life will be brewing at the former Deitch headquarters at 76 Grand Street, with a gallery that appears to continue in the Deitch tradition. The Observer has learned that Suzanne Geiss, former executive director of Deitch Projects, plans to start a new gallery in the building, which will be open to the public next spring.

The Suzanne Geiss Company will be open by appointment as of next week, with an installation by the artist collective known as assume vivid astro focus (avaf), a mainstay of the Deitch program, in Ms. Geiss’s office. AVAF is the alias of Brazilian-born New York-based artist Eli Sudbrack, who makes artworks with a team of collaborators. The gallery opens to the public next spring with a regular exhibition schedule, beginning with a show of the late graffiti artist known as Rammellzee, who died last year. Rammellzee’s work was recently included in the exhibition “Art in the Streets,” at LA MOCA, curated by Mr. Deitch, Roger Gastman and Aaron Rose.

Ms. Geiss formed Suzanne Geiss Company last year; during last year’s edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, she worked on an installation of avaf’s work Acid Flashback at Goldman Warehouse in the city’s Wynwood district.

The gallery joins a cluster of galleries in SoHo, including Team Gallery, across the street, which recently expanded to a second space on Wooster Street, and the nonprofit Swiss Institute, which took over Mr. Deitch’s former gallery at 18 Wooster earlier this year.

Ms. Geiss was executive director of Deitch Projects from 1997 through 2010, when Mr. Deitch closed his gallery. At Deitch Projects, she represented the estate of Keith Haring, and managed artists including Vanessa Beecroft and Kristin Baker. She also organized the first retrospective of Stephen Sprouse’s work, and oversaw the gallery’s vibrant performance program.

The exhibition by avaf, entitled “Cyclops Trannies,” consists in brightly colored wallpaper on top of which are displayed 50 paint-marker portraits of transvestites. Avaf is also currently working on a collaboration with Lady Gaga, called Gaga’s Workshop, for the store Barneys, as part of Barneys Holiday 2011 campaign.

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