Turkish Entrepreneurs Create Buzz With C24

Image NEW YORK—What's left to do once you have conquered the internet in Turkey? How about starting an art gallery in New York? That's exactly what Emre Kurteppeli, the art collector and founder of Turkish internet hub Mynet, did after finding two partners — New York lawyer Mel Dogan and Turkish businessman Erkut Soyak — who were equally interested in supporting artists from emerging markets. They found a 9,000-square-foot piece of real estate on fashionable 24th Street in Chelsea, hired some big names in the industry, courted a splashy guest curator, and threw one of the most crowded art openings of the month at their new space, C24.

While the gallery just threw open its doors two weeks ago, it is already creating buzz with a group show of emerging and mid-career artists from New Orleans and Istanbul, titled "Double Crescent" and curated by Dan Cameron, formerly of the New Museum and currently the director of the Prospect New Orleans biennial. It sounds crazy enough to get some press — but was it just a stunt?

According to those at the helm, this show was not just a flash in the pan. The gallery was created in order to focus on communities outside the major art centers of of the world.

"I am really interested in art that I find to be innovative," said executive director Kristen Lynn Johnston, who previously worked at Bodhi Art New York, a gallery of contemporary Indian art. She added, "I have one eye on cities outside the normal." While that means New Orleans and Istanbul at the moment, the range of artists showing at C24 is eventually going to be global. Johnston is looking at bringing in artists from Saõ Paulo, Mumbai, and other known but less-recognized cultural centers.

Of the artists showing in the "Double Crescent" show, at least one is now represented by C24 (Ali Kazma, a Turkish video artist), and a few more are being considered. Though Johnston would not name names, there was a lot of buzz at the opening about New Orleans-based artist Bruce Davenport, Jr., and in interviews both Johnston and Cameron singled him out as up-and-coming. Davenport began teaching himself to draw for entertainment at the age of five, and now produces crowded scenes of marching bands in pen. His images are instantly recognizable to anyone who has been to an American high school football game — but what provokes the most intrigue are the hand-written notes around the edges, mostly detailing how the particular band in the drawing was affected by Katrina.

Johnston said that the work of many of the artists has caught the eyes of collectors. "I get about six new people in here every day asking about prices," she noted, adding, "Not all of them are collectors, but I would say about half are." According to Kurttepeli, the price for most of the work is between $10,000 and $20,000, but some artists command $50,000-100,000. A few of the works fall below $10,000.

Kurttepeli maintains that C24 is not a "Turkish" gallery — rather, he is a collector of contemporary art interested in exposing a range of artists from outside the major art capitals to the New York market. Making this idea into a reality comes at a price, though, and for Kurttepeli, C24 is a passion project rather than a business venture. "When you work with emerging artists it's harder financially," he told ARTINFO. "It was our thought that we would concentrate on the mission statement more. From the financial side it's a less feasible project.... In the short term we are willing to cover that."

As for the connection between Istanbul and New Orleans, while there are some similarities between the two — their proximity to major waterways and historical importance as port cities being the most apparent — there is also quite a noticeable difference between the show's Turkish artists, who are mostly well-established, mid-career artists with high profiles in Europe, and the New Orleans artists, who fall more heavily into the "emerging artist" category. So is this an example of a rising "emerging market" benefiting artists in the U.S.?

On the day before the gallery's opening night, New Orleans video artist Dave Greber told ARTINFO that he was in about 17 art shows last year. However, he has only sold two works in his life. Despite that, he didn't appear discouraged, since this record says less about the quality of his work than it does about the art scene in New Orleans, which has worked to redefine itself since Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the city in 2005. Greber described a culture where shows are put on by the artists — he works with a nonprofit artists' collective called the Front — with plenty of community support. But the city lacks a large base of collectors to support the artists financially. The art community in the city is working to change that — notably with Cameron's Prospect biennial — but the demand isn't there, at least not yet.
However, it is the aim of the C24 team that by bringing artists to New York, they can bring them New York prices (they are betting their very high rent on it). "On a price level, things are very subjective," said Kurttepeli. "For most of the artists in the group show, the pricing they come up with in their local market is the price that the local market supports." And even a modest sale in the Big Apple would mean a lot to artists back in their respective Crescent Cities. Source: Art Info
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07