Sculptor Richard Nonas tells the creation story of what eventually became the Clocktower Gallery. It was the 1970s, and a group of penniless, frustrated artists were desperate to show their work. But back then, no money meant no gallery space. So an intrepid young woman named Alanna Heiss decided to take matters into her own hands. She started a search for a new kind of place to show art. What she found was a junk-filled, fire-damaged basement with no electricity. Hear how Nonas and Heiss transformed the space and, by doing so, transformed the art world.
For her participation in apexart’s AVANT-GUIDE TO NYC: Discovering Absence, a 2009 exhibition investigating the activities and documentation of some of New York City’s most unique cultural spaces, artist Nancy Hwang revisited the 37-year history of the Clocktower Gallery.
Remembering her earliest moments in the Clocktower, Hwang says:
"It was the third building I entered when I moved to New York in 1996. The first was my new apartment, and the second was the terribly generic Chinese restaurant around the corner. As a young art school graduate, I was pretty green. I didn't understand the Clocktower's special place in the history of the art world, and certainly couldn't figure out how to get to the 13th floor in a building with elevators that only went to 12."
"I met Alanna Heiss shortly before the 1997 re-opening of P.S.1 after a three-year renovation, and ended up working for her for three years. The people I met during that time were incredible art world personalities, whom I would encounter again and again in different situations after my P.S.1 years. One of Alanna's many gifts is to always have great people around her. She attracts with her energy and inspires mad genius—something of a superpower."