Eight months after opening a new art gallery at 507 Main Street, owner Paul Calendrillo is in search of a new space.
The original gallery location, situated next door to the Subway sandwich shop, was rented on a month-to-month basis with the caveat that they would move out when a more permanent tenant was found. That day came when Islanders Owen and Bridget Johnston, who run the children’s music program Music Together, signed a lease to transform the storefront into a music and party space for kids. Calendrillo held a closing reception for the gallery on April 29.
Appetite for Art
Calendrillo and his wife, Marian, moved to Roosevelt Island in 2009, when a 2-bedroom apartment in Southtown was less than $4,000 per month. Last September, after two years of curating shows in various galleries in the City, Calendrillo opened a new gallery on Roosevelt Island, just a few doors down from Gallery RIVAA, which is operated by the Roosevelt Island Visual Arts Association.
Over the course of its eight-month tenure, the Paul Calendrillo New York Gallery put up eight exhibits, which Calendrillo says brought numerous new people to the Island and exposed residents’ appetite and love for art.
“Fifty percent of our sales came from off-Island, but the other fifty came from Island residents,” Calendrillo says. “I was surprised. There was a lot of interest during this time from both new and old-time residents of the Island.”
He wants to continue his tenure on the Island, and says that, with the right deal from Hudson Related, he will locate his gallery on the Island more permanently within the year – even though he and his wife are moving back to Chelsea this summer because their rent in Southtown has gone up by 35 percent since 2009.
Calendrillo is eager to continue with his scheduled artists. After going on a viewing tour of the Island’s commercial spaces with Hudson Related to find a new spot, Calendrillo said he was eyeing the old hardware store space at 544 Main Street.
“I love that space. It’s big enough; it has a mezzanine, which is perfect for us; there are two walls with windows that can make the space flooded with light.” But while it might make for a great potential gallery space, 544 Main Street also has plumbing issues and Hudson Related is working to estimate the cost and scope.
“What I plan on doing,” said an eager Calendrillo, “is to nicely reach out to [Hudson Related] to ask where they are with this, to let them know that every month I don’t have a space is another month we don’t make any money.”
Other spaces that came up, according to Calendrillo, are either without electricity, or, in the case of the old cards and gifts store, are a bit too big. Calendrillo is looking to secure the same month-to-month deal he had from Hudson Related while he decides whether to stay on the Island permanently. “It’s really up to Hudson Related. I’m here and I think it is in their interest.”
Calendrillo describes his gallery as a “hard-nosed, for-profit, did-you-bring-your-checkbook gallery,” and sees RIVAA as the Island’s community art organization. He says he is, however, happy to participate in the community if asked.
Assuming he can find a new permanent spot on the Island for his gallery, Calendrillo says he will be looking to hire. His plan is to reside in Miami during the winters, and so will need employees to work at the gallery. In fact, he is currently looking for interns for this coming year who can learn the business and grow with it.
On tap for the coming year are some untraditional exhibitions, according to Calendrillo, including a tribute and gathering for people who suffer from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), with an artist who expresses her struggle with it through her paintings. There is also a group show of “crazy cool California artists,” as Calendrillo describes them. “That is a done deal for October, if we can only get the space.”