THE WEDGE — David Petersen’s eponymous Lyndale Avenue gallery turns 3 years old this month, and he’s celebrating with business as usual.
Sure, Petersen conceded recently, he might’ve made more explicit reference to the anniversary, maybe by bringing back one of the more than two dozen artists he’s exhibited there since September 2012. Then again, “Agon,” a solo show of new paintings and drawings by New York-based emerging artist Lizzy Marshall, is Petersen doing what he does best.
Marshall seems to be producing the kind of intellectually rigorous, historically aware contemporary art that Petersen has long championed. The works he previewed on his office computer a week before installation included layered paintings ripe with suggestion and references to classical art as well as minimalist, calligraphic ink drawings.
As he scrolled through the images, unintelligible conversation and laughter filtered through the small white-box gallery’s walls. That you can hear the workers at the dry cleaners next door happily chattering away all day long is just one of the quirks of the space, like the gaping crack that runs diagonally across the concrete floor.
“I love them,” he said, uncrossing artfully tattooed forearms. “They’re always having such a good time.”
Prior to launching his commercial enterprise, Petersen ran Dressing Room, an art space and publishing project, out of a South Minneapolis apartment he shared with artist Crystal Quinn. Before that, he was a co-director of Art of This, an influential non-profit gallery that was a hub for ambitious, often challenging visual art and performance.
David Petersen Gallery is not a “Minneapolis gallery,” says its owner; it’s a gallery in Minneapolis, but also a conduit into the international art scene. That his inconspicuous storefront is located just a few blocks from the Walker Art Center is no coincidence, since he’s attempting to tap into a similarly open, engaged and intellectually nimble audience for contemporary art.
The Twin Cities is rightfully proud of its robust network of nonprofit galleries and the opportunities they provide for emerging artists to get their work in front of audiences. But Petersen suggested that model hasn’t created a strong collector class and the kind of healthy patronage that supports artists over their lifetimes.
About half of Peterson’s buyers are local, some cultivated through small, private events in the gallery.
“If I can meet one new person who could potentially buy a piece at some point or become a regular at the gallery, that’s a huge win,” he said.
There have been other wins in the past three years. Scott Nedrelow, a Minneapolis artist who’s shown in all three of Petersen’s spaces, recently had one of his video pieces acquired by the Walker.
So, why hype the gallery’s third anniversary when he isn’t doing a special anniversary show? Because he’s still alive and kicking, and that alone is probably worth celebrating.
“The significance is when I signed the lease it was a three-year lease with a three-year option,” Petersen said. “It’s also like: So what? We made one loop around the track, now let’s do it five more times.”
When: Through Oct. 17
Where: David Petersen Gallery, 2018 Lyndale Ave. S.
Info: davidpetersengallery.com, 276-6541