From Our House to Bauhaus: Five Questions with Jerelyn Hanrahan, Founder of Atelier on Spring Gallerie
By Diana Mosher
Artist and gallerist Jerelyn Hanrahan helped residents of Long Island (and beyond) get through the pandemic by providing visual inspiration in a safely distanced way. When she opened Atelier on Spring Street, a venue for contemporary art at 19 Spring Street in Oyster Bay, the public was invited to view the exhibition from outside the window. Running through October 30, “From Our House to Bauhaus” is an eclectic mix of art unified by a theme she loves. Running concurrently is Other Voices, with an immersive interactive installation by muralist Jillian Morrison and paintings and works on paper by Regina Bartkoff, Jerelyn Hanrahan, Jessica Nissen, Rick Prol and Charles Schick. I recently caught up with Jerelyn to talk about her vision for the gallery, which Bauhaus elements she loves most and what’s next for the gallery.
Why and when did you open your gallery Atelier on Spring Gallerie?
I opened the Gallery in March 2020 at the height of the pandemic. I felt the world needed some evidence that the beat would go on, as well as some visual inspiration. The initial exhibitions were designed to be viewed from outside the window since people were so afraid to be in close quarters with others. At the opening event an exhibition of large-scaled paintings of legendary dancers could be viewed from outside, and I had a dancer perform at the opening which was also viewed from outside (see image below). I lit the exhibition in purple at night. It looked like a beautiful jewelry box.
What was the inspiration behind your current show “From Bauhaus to Our House” running through October 30?
I am a devotee of the Bauhaus, I have visited Dessau and taught in Germany as well. I am in love with midcentury architecture and the Frederick Froebel principles that criteria is based on. My daughter went to kindergarten in Germany and they still use those principles today. I couldn’t wait until she came home from school to see what she did. I actually saved it all and made a book of her projects there. From Bauhaus to Our House is one of my favorite books, humorous and culturally informative. It is mandatory reading for my college students.
What were your criteria for this show as you curated artist content?
Basically the principles of the Bauhaus—Starting From Zero—functional simple designs with impeccable craftsmanship.
Tell us briefly about the pieces you are showing in the show.
The main part of the exhibition are works by a self-taught German blacksmith Norbert Kimmel. His designs are inspired by nature and combined with outstanding utility. This exhibition includes lights with a Brutal architectural feeling and forged steel tables. When looking at the work it’s hard to believe it’s steel and aluminum. Theres a lot of grace and natural forms in the work. The show also consists of a series of plein air paintings I did of my hometown, Oyster Bay.
I had not worked representationally in decades. I did these during the pandemic. It was a great exercise while isolation was on the table, and done at the request of my mother who requested I paint the series just before she passed. There are a lot of interesting as well as midcentury homes in the Oyster Bay area.
The exhibition also includes ceramic works by a native Polish artist Marta Baumiller who lives on the North Fork and Lauren Skelly Bailey a local artist. There are also two bronze sculptures by Steven Zaluski based on the theme of community.
What’s next for the gallery?
The next exhibition for the gallery is called New Voices with a bit of a sleepy Hollow theme. In the 1980s I had a frightening studio on Avenue B and Houston Street. Billy Idol asked to use my phone one day and wanted to use it for a video set. There was no heat or water and I worked on large paintings in the dark—often in a ski suit because it was so cold. I love this series of work, so I will be showing those. There will also be works by other Lower East Side artists Regina Bartkoff and Charles Schiff who are terrific painters and run a theater on Avenue C. Also the legend Rick Prol and ink drawings by Jessica Nissen. The gallery will be painted like a theater set, as if you’re in the woods. I’m having tree trunks delivered to show my porcelain sculptures which have another worldly feeling.