Domestic Art: Dealer Jose Martos Is Bringing It All Back Home

Summer show, bigger than ever, moves to North Fork

The freewheeling spirit of the summer show is echoed in Mr. Martos’s other ongoing project, Shoot The Lobster, which began last year and has a permanent home in the back room of Martos Gallery. It travels widely. The most extreme Shoot The Lobster venture took place in Miami in May 2012, when Ryan Foerster installed work in a vacant lot far from glitzy South Beach. Prints lay on the cracked concrete and patchy grass, pinned down by rocks, roof tiles and other flotsam. Nothing was for sale.

“It was amazing, it was like a breakthrough working that way,” said Mr. Foerster, who said he was skeptical when Mr. Martos pitched the idea. “He was just like, ‘You know, what the fuck, let’s go to Miami; it will be funny. We’ll go in the springtime.’” The show’s timing and Arte Povera spirit seemed intended to poke fun at the spectacle of Art Basel Miami Beach. Homeless denizens of the lot attended the “opening,” alongside collectors like the Rubells.

“The idea of what art is and can be down here feels kind of limited,” said Mr. Drain, who lives in Miami. “For Jose to do a show in this really derelict part of town really opened people’s eyes. I think some people realized, oh, I don’t need to rent a storefront.”

The next exhibition at Martos Gallery in Chelsea, a group show organized by artist and Sex magazine editor Asher Penn, opens September 12. Until about a week before that, Mr. Martos will be for the most part at his home in East Marion, manning the show and, well, just living with it. “It’s a big commitment,” he said of cohabitating with an exhibition. “You live with your family, you are on vacation, you’re sitting in your kitchen and somebody walks in.” Recently, that somebody was a critic from The New York Times. Mr. Martos had just emerged from the shower.

But this show may be the last of its kind. The scale, in Mr. Nickas’s view, was too much. “Sixty-six artists, 132 artworks in a gallery with a three-person staff?” he said wearily over an iced tea back in the city. Next summer may bring a solo show, or something else entirely.

“Sometimes he seems like he has a bigger imagination than some of the artists,” said Virginia Overton, a veteran of the summer shows. “He’ll offer these ideas that seem completely off the wall, which seems a little like the opposite of what you’d expect from a dealer.”

Domestic Art: Dealer Jose Martos Is Bringing It All Back Home