Claire Oliver Gallery opened a new gallery space in Harlem on January 18 with an inaugural exhibition of artworks by Judith Schaechter. A 17-year veteran of Chelsea, Oliver acquired a historically significant four-story brownstone in Central Harlem in 2018 and has sensitively renovated the building to include a glass storefront and open floorplans to best showcase artwork in both large-scale and intimate spaces throughout the building. Situated across the ground floor of the gallery, Schaechter’s exhibition Almost Better Angels features seven new large-scale stained-glass works mounted on lightboxes and will mark her seventh solo exhibition with the gallery. The exhibition will be on view to the public through February 22.
“I’m thrilled to open our new space in Harlem with Almost Better Angels as we opened our Chelsea location almost 20 years ago with works by Judith Schaechter,” states Claire Oliver. “This exhibition marks a crossroads for the gallery: we are squarely looking to the future in our new space, while highlighting one of our seminal artists’ work that is both groundbreaking in form and subject and historically significant in its craft.”
Schaechter employs a centuries-old process of staining glass and layering panes to produce her epically narrative and brilliantly polychrome artworks. “I am compelled by the concepts of treasure and torture: the invisible line between inspiration, creativity and beauty. The experience of a stained-glass window is not visual per se, you feel the warmth and the light in a way that you don’t with painting or television.” By design, nothing in Schaechter’s works allows for a straightforward narrative or a single meaning. Schaechter deliberately chooses images that are ambiguous, inviting a multiplicity of interpretations.
The title “Almost Better Angels” is from a chapter in Robert Sapolsky book Behave and refers to his ultimate conclusion that human beings have guarded reasons for optimism when it comes to our biological nature driving our destiny. “I do not consider myself to be an artist who works in an overtly political manner, nor do I consider these works to have a specifically political message,” explains Schaechter. “That said, I am deeply concerned about our world and see a dire need for empathy and compassion. I am specifically concerned with our environment—climate change, habitat collapse and the treatment of animals and much of the work in this exhibition was inspired by those feelings and concerns.”
The move to Harlem comes at a pivotal moment for Claire Oliver Gallery, which has sought a more expansive location to fully realize its mission of exhibiting and supporting significant emerging artists through multiple exhibition spaces, rich community engagement and public programming including lectures, demonstrations and performances. The inaugural exhibition will be staged in the 1,000 square foot ground floor space, which will showcase the gallery’s first year of programming before the full building opens in early 2021.
More info: Claire Oliver Gallery
2288 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard
New York, NY 10030
Tuesday – Saturday, 11am -6pm