The Master Gallery
August 3 – October 30, 2023
Looking Back: A Ten-Year Retrospective of the Master Gallery
A Ten-Year Retrospective of the Master Gallery
What do you do with a series of oversized paintings left behind by a former resident who happens to be a damn good painter? You hang them on the wall.
Over a century ago, the idealist, philosopher, and artist, Nicholas Roerich declared, “Bring art to the people – where it belongs.” Roerich was true to his word. With the generous support and collaboration of his benefactors, Louis and Nettie Horch, in 1929 the cornerstone was laid for the official opening of The Master Institute of United Arts at 310 Riverside Drive. Among its many attributes such as a 300-seat theatre and a school of fine arts, The Master, as it has informally been called (later known as The Riverside Museum), was home to one of the city’s earliest collections of contemporary art.
Fast forward to 2013, those left behind paintings did finally make it on the wall and became the inaugural show of the reimagined Master Gallery. Looking back, it seems fitting that, although we never intentionally set out to create an art gallery, we felt inspired to follow in the footsteps of these venerated trailblazers, Roerich and the Horchs. Their cultural contribution and commitment made it possible for us to restore art to the walls of this hallowed institution, and to share that art with our neighbors and fellow New Yorkers. Forty shows later, the work of artists we have presented covers a remarkable span of mediums, including photography, watercolor and mixed media painting, collage, graphic novels, sculpture, glass quilts, and instruments repurposed from found objects and other materials.
It is the mission of the curator to carefully choose, thoughtfully organize, and interpret a collection to inspire and educate the public. In the process, we discovered it is also the curator who is inspired and educated. We are grateful to our collaborators, especially our trusted framer, Ilana Lobet, whose patience and exquisite attention to detail have fostered a number of installations, to the staff of the Master Apartments, who have tended to our every need, and to the past, present and future artists, we thank you for your inspiration and your trust. We pass the mantle on to the next generation of curators tending to the Gallery with our hope the legacy will carry on for another ten years and beyond.