Burgeoning Art Scene in Harlem: It’s HAWT


Head Series: Beñat Iglesias Lopez

There’s a growing art scene going on in central Harlem which is quite exciting. At this year’s Harlem Art Walking Tour 2013 hosted by Casa Frela Gallery, there was an impressive range of participants. There are surprisingly quite a few serious artists, galleries and studios who have chosen to call Harlem central base.


Fumiko Toda

There are galleries, such as Adam Alex Gallery, Heath Gallery, Renaissance Fine Art, Getaway Gallery which are spaces dedicated to showcasing emerging artists. There are some spaces, like Tikhonova & Wintner Fine Art, who are more like private dealers who showcase work in their homes.

Billy Copley at Getaway Gallery

Billy Copley at Getaway Gallery

Leonardo Benzant at Tikhonova & Wintner

Leonardo Benzant at Tikhonova & Wintner

One of my favorite artists was Guy Beckles, a kinetic artist from Trinidad, whose work was both incredibly kitsch and sophisticated at the same time. The movements of his mechanical pieces were complex, engaging, hilarious. Watch my Youtube Channel for upcoming video clips of his work.

Guy Beckles

Guy Beckles

Surprising to me was the congregation of studio spaces in central Harlem. Floor4Art has a number of spaces on the 4th and 5th floor of a building at 116th Street and 8th Ave (FDB). The rents there are competitive with the rest of the city, not a huge bargain for those who simply want to dabble in a hobby. So the artists there are quite serious about their work.

Chashama Harlem Art Factory is an incredible space in a very industrial part of central Harlem, at West 126 St and Amsterdam Avenue. Priced at $1 sq/ft… yes, that isn’t a typo, one dollar per square foot… makes these spaces quite sought after, leaving a waiting list of about 2 years. While an enticing concept, the studio artists do not seem to be selectively curated, and you find quite a range of talent, and not-so-much talent, mixed in with characters that I’m not sure I would want to deal with regularly. Also, the facilities were not particularly secure once you got inside, and one large space had large openings where windows should have been. So I’d imagine it’s cold in the winter, and things might have a habit of walking away on their own. No proof it’s true, but it’s what I’d surmise.

Nonetheless. I’m inspired by it’s very existence here in Harlem. The studios include access to exhibition/performance space, so it is quite a artistic village scene there.

Shawn Walker

Shawn Walker

One space I missed seeing was Art in Flux, which used to have multiple storefronts on 7th Ave (ACP) but seemed to have moved out of that space. Visiting their site, it doesn’t appear that they have found another location yet. I look forward to a new space, although given the current real estate market, they may have difficulty finding something affordable.

Breadbox Studio, located at West 113 St and 7th Ave (ACP) was one of my most exciting finds, and a studio with whom I am thinking about collaborating. Part design studio, part learning center, this workshop, for lack of a better term, combines design and technology (and art) in a way that is very forward thinking. Quite cutting edge. They currently have 3D printers, and they are hoping to offer adult classes and space for creatives to do work. Run by Joseph Masibay, Breadbox Studio sounds like a very promising venture in this rapidly developing neighborhood.



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