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Weekly Update – Spector on the move


This week’s Weekly has my Q&A with artist/gallerist Shelley Spector whose gallery is closing after a 7-year run on Bainbridge St. The copy’s below and here’s the link to the art page. We on artblog are massive Shelley-philes so you will find reams of reports about her and her gallery in our index on the left.

Shelley Shock

After seven years at the forefront of Philly’s art scene, Spector Gallery shuts its doors.

shelley spector becky

Shelley Spector at the 2-floor-spanning installation of her own work at Painted Bride in September, 2005.

After running the hippest art space in the city for more than seven years, Shelley Spector is closing her gallery to focus on other projects—like teaching, making art and freelance curating. It’s always sad to see a gallery close, and it’s especially sad when the owner is a leader in the city’s booming art scene. But Spector says her leadership won’t go away. She’s got plans for freelance projects that’ll look a lot like what we’ve seen in her gallery. And she’s a regular monthly presence online with Art Jaw, her archive of first-person, behind-the-scenes stories.

Bill Lohre

Bill Lohre, finishing up his window installation, Light, Life and Air, at Spector Gallery. Installation’s up through September.

At the gallery through September you can see Bill Lohre’s miniaturized “Life, Light and Air” in the window. But this fall look for announcements of a public closing party (that the artist/gallerist promises will be a celebration and not a wake.)

I talked with Spector about Art Jaw, Spector Projects and art in the Italian market.

Was this a sudden decision?

“I’ve thought about it for a long time. The gallery’s seven years old. I feel like I’ve completed everything I wanted to do with it. To sustain it you have to keep growing and do trade shows, etc. I was always passionate. I’m not passionate about taking the gallery to another level.

“For me, everything I do I approach like an artwork. It’s a creative project. When galleries move into a higher hierarchy, they lose the freedom of the creative idea. By losing freedom of creativity I would become more ineffectual.”

What’s the first new project?


Ben Woodward painting from his solo show, 2005.

“The first project is making a transition to Spector Projects: moving, finishing jobs, helping place artists, collecting money, changing the website. There’s a lot of reorganizing to do. I have a project I’m working on, but it’s in flux, so I don’t want to say too much.”

What’s coming up on Art Jaw ?

AJW installation

Andrew Jeffrey Wright’s wall of small works, from his solo show, 2006.

“We have Jeanne Jaffe talking about her cockatoo, Lily, Rob Matthews, Hester Stinnett, Teresa Jaynes and Space 1026 together writing about the rules of fair play in dumpster diving, Damian Weinkrantz, Paula Marincola, Rachel Zimmerman.”

Any gallery memories that stand out?

Jim Houser

Jim Houser painting from his first show at Spector Gallery, 1999.

“One time there was a guy standing outside the gallery looking in the window. He had a giant Rottweiler dog. I told him to come on in and bring the dog too. The dog took two steps into the gallery and vomited. It was a big dog and a big mess.

“The first thing I sold, I’m pretty sure, was a Jim Houser painting on a slice of a skateboard. I sold it for $45 to Alex Baker. It was the piece I wanted too. That’s when I learned: Don’t wait if you want it.”

Any location advice for someone who wants to open a gallery?

shoes and wires

Street art outside Spector Gallery on Bainbridge St. (Gone now) Faux sneakers dangling beneath the real sneakers.

“Center City is definitely unavailable. Someone from Brooklyn might be comfortable in my neighborhood. It wouldn’t be bad if 510 Bainbridge would become a gallery again. At some point I’ll let it go and it’s already set up. But some people should plunk in Old City and some should go to Northern Liberties. Money is always an issue.

“If I was going to set something up now, I’d do it on Ninth Street in the Italian Market. The market has a day life and not a night life. It’s eclectic. There’s a lot of potential, plus cheap food and a colorful atmosphere. Also, it’s set up as commercial.”

Bill Lohre: “Life, Light, and Air” Through Sept. Spector Gallery, 510 Bainbridge St. 215.238.0840.