Employees Only: Greenpoint’s Rawson Projects Curates David Zwirner Staff Show

Installation view of works by Dave Miko in ‘People Who Work Here,’ curated by Rawson Projects, at David Zwirner. (Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner)

It’s not uncommon to hear New Yorkers say that they work almost all the time, but in the case of James Morrill and Chris Rawson it’s actually true. During the week they’re the controller and archivist, respectively, at the David Zwirner gallery, and on the weekend they run a gallery on the northern edge of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, called Rawson Projects, which they take turns manning so that they each get to spend one day a week outside a gallery.

On Monday morning, the two tall, 29-year-old dealers stood inside one of Zwirner’s cavernous galleries (at 3,000 square feet, its about five times larger than their Greenpoint storefront), drinking coffee and surveying the show they’d organized there. After two days of installation, it was finally ready for its July 11 opening.

The show is called “People Who Work Here,” and all 16 of its artists are employed by Zwirner. “Most group shows, you’re able to choose all of the artists,” said Mr. Rawson. “Here we had a pool of artists, and then we selected the work.” Kristine Bell, a partner at Zwirner, approached the two about doing a summer show, and they put out an all-staff call for work. “It’s like curating in reverse,” said Mr. Morrill.

Conveniently, two of the artists they show in Greenpoint also work at the gallery, Ben Berlow, as a registrar, and Sam Martineau, as an art handler. Their abstract paintings hang not far from trippy, irregularly shaped paintings by Dave Miko (also an art handler and one of the most established artists here) that line another wall.

With a whopping 60 staffers, the gallery was just big enough to provide some surprises for the two curators, like painter and art handler David Ording, who “makes these rather humorous riffs on the tradition of portraiture,” Mr. Morill said—Thomas Jefferson with a peculiar skin condition, for instance. Another surprise: Justin Phillipson, who started as the new media coordinator six months ago. “I didn’t know him that well, and all of a sudden you realize he has an entire body of video work,” Mr. Morill said. Mr. Phillipson’s video is called Two Bodegas, and is a street-level shot of just that, though the video has been compressed hundreds of time, so the shops go in and out of focus as the image pixelates.

The show at Zwirner is bound to raise the profile of Rawson Projects, but its two proprietors are, at least for the moment, keeping their day jobs. With Zwirner set to open new galleries on 20th Street and in London, it’s an interesting place to work, Mr. Rawson said. “We’re pretty happy doing both at this point.”

Update 10:00 p.m.: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reversed the job titles of Messrs. Morrill and Rawson. Employees Only: Greenpoint’s Rawson Projects Curates David Zwirner Staff Show