NO gallery scene is static, but lately Chelsea’s has been especially in flux.
Its maze of galleries — New York’s most populous — now has the new Whitney poised on its southern edge. Yet towering apartment buildings are rising on nearly every block and rents are escalating, along with rumors. This makes it hard to tell what the future holds for galleries that don’t own their spaces — which is most of them; already some have closed, others have merged or moved. And one of the anchors of the neighborhood, the commodious brick building at 548 West 22nd Street that once housed the Dia Art Foundation, and recently played host to art fairs, is now slated for development. And yet, the neighborhood can still feel like a perpetual art fair — in a good way — with galleries of all sizes and orientations sifting through past and present in exciting ways.
The galleries Zieher Smith and Sean Horton joined forces last year, doubling their abilities to find young or underexposed talent. The latest is Clare Grill, whose new paintings have a weblike delicacy of their own. Their almost monochromatic surfaces accrue in small free-form shapes of close shades of yellow, pink, magenta, brown or green laid on in textured brushwork. The quietly teeming surfaces bow to Paul Klee, bringing drawing’s intimacy to painting’s expanse. In “Grain” and “Peacock,” the shapes pull apart to reveal fluctuating shadows. Ms. Grill’s control of pictorial space is precise yet magical.