Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Harbingers of Doom

Maureen Cavanaugh is the perfect artist to close 31 Grand. Her self portraits always struck me as eerily like gallery co-owner Megan Bush. Maureen's been with the gallery for quite some time and a great exemplar of the gallery's marriage of quality, gloss, and psychological intensity.
I ran into Megan Bush on the street yesterday. When I asked her about her opening tonight, she told me some sad and sadly unshocking news. They're closing their doors after this show.

It wouldn't be completely accurate to define this as the end of an era. That happened two years ago when they moved out of Williamsburg for the LES. They were one of the first and best galleries in Williamsburg and were at the epicenter of the action in many ways. Their openings down by the waterfront were always packed and the art they showed there was edgy, witty and extremely (and often pains-takingly) well executed. Their shows have always been about vision but also about quality. They've always run the place the way a gallery should be run.

The gallery cannot be separated in my mind from the two dynamic women behind it, Megan and Heather Stephens. They're both super-smart, organized, and two of the nicest people I've ever met. The opposite of flaky. At the same time, I've always felt that they're plugged into something special and that 31Grand merits watching. With their seemingly unlimited energy, instinctive and un-selfconscious style, and great taste 31 Grand is by all rights a gallery that ought to succeed.

When I asked Megan what was wrong, she said just two words: "the economy." Of course no one is exempt from this financial storm but it's especially sad to see 31Grand go down because they are right at the heart of the contemporary scene, but also ideal trail blazers for the future artworld.

I'm going to the opening tonight and will report back. More details soon, including a possible closing party.

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