O’Flaherty’s summer open call and the overwhelming response

Blaise Tobia and Virginia Maksymowicz saw the open-call non-juried summer show at the lower east side gallery and call it anarchy at its best. Read on for more about the 800-artist show, open for another week or so.

Exterior view of O'Flaherty's gallery, which has "O'Flaherty's," "est 2021," and "What's wrong?" in neon signs hanging in 3 windows, through which you can see multiple artworks taped to the windows.
Exterior, O’Flaherty’s NYC. Courtesy Blaise Tobia.

Anarchy at its Best

On Sunday, July 24, in the middle of a record-setting heatwave, we happened to be in lower Manhattan, picking up some items loaned to CityLore Gallery for their ART/WORK exhibition. That morning, we had read in The New York Times about an exhibition at O’Flaherty’s on Avenue C. Apparently, the opening reception had drawn such a huge crowd (estimated from 1,000 to 3,000 people) that the police moved in to clear the streets. Since it is only a few blocks away from CityLore, we decided to take a look.

The storefront gallery was founded just last year by Jamian Juliano-Villani and Billy Grant, but it has already fallen victim to NYC real estate pressures. Their landlord is about to evict them. As a befitting goodbye, they decided to hold an un-juried, open-call exhibition they dubbed “The Patriot.” Conceived as a summer group show even more pointless than the typical summer group show, that is “a truly democratic show where everyone is treated equally like shit,” submissions were constrained only by a size limit. Over 800 artists responded and all of the work was somehow jammed in. The result is what Max Lakin in the NYT calls “a Cooper Union thesis show on psilocybin.”

If you happen to be in the neighborhood before August 10 (or August 9 – the press release and the website disagree on the closing date), it’s worth stopping by . . . not so much for the artworks themselves, but for the spectacle and for the “old fashioned” artist-run experience.

— Blaise Tobia and Virginia Maksymowicz

Blaise Tobia and Virginia Maksymowicz are artists and educators and long-time Artblog contributors. Read their articles here.

Interior view of O'Flaherty's gallery's 800 person show, with artworks tightly packed side by side on every wall and even some on the ceiling and floor.
Installation view, “The Patriot” at O’Flaherty’s NYC. Courtesy Blaise Tobia.
Press release for O'Flaherty's show "THE PATRIOT"
Press release, “The Patriot” at O’Flaherty’s NYC. Courtesy Blaise Tobia.