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A.I.R. Gallery Show

August 15, 2006 throughAugust 19, 2006


Alma on Dobbin,  with 2B Gallery, organized an exhibition recording the history of the AIR Gallery of NYC, along with exhibiting two of their portfolio publications--one from 1976, and the other 30 years later.


An edited excerpt from Dena Muller’s gallery statement, June 2006:


in the January 1971 issue of ArtNews, art historian Linda Nochlin asked a challenging question that had been simmering in feminist circles:  “Why are there no great women artists?”  Later that year, artists Barbara Zucker and Susan Williams, who met in a feminist-consciousness raising group and shared studio space, answered the question with clarity and insight: the established gallery world did not provide venues for work made by women.  They resolved to create a co-operative gallery to show work by women. They researched the slide registry of the Ad Hoc Committee for Women Artists and conducted studio visits to select 20 artists to administer and exhibit in this not-for-profit gallery: Rachel Bas-Cohain, Judith Bernstein, Blythe Bohnen, Maude Boltz, Agnes Denes, Loretta Dunkelman, Daria Dorosh, Harmony Hammond, Anne Healy, Laurace James, Nancy Wilson Kitchel, Louise Kramer, Rosemary Mayer, Patsy Norvell, Howardena Pindell, and Nancy Spero. (Daria Dorosh and Louise Kramer remain members today.) 


The group went on to name the project “A.I.R. Gallery” as a dual reference to its location in SoHo, then characterized by the city-authorized artist-in-residence loft program, and the insistence that women artists “take residence” in a male-defined art world.


Lucy Lippard’s essay for the 1976 print portfolio of the founding artists’ work expresses some of the challenges inherent in the gallery’s innovative positioning: “A.I.R.’s internal history has been a tempestuous one.  At the beginning, there was a certain dissension among the 20 members as to how much the political aspect should be stressed.  While all felt that the art came first, some felt [the gallery artists were] constantly wrestling with the idealism on which A.I.R. is founded and avariciousness for personal success.”


As A.I.R. looked ahead to its 35th Anniversary in the fall of 2007, the tendency both within and outside A.I.R. Gallery was to refer to the founding as a transformative and influential event in the history of contemporary art.  While this is undeniably the case, and worthy of recognition, in many ways the more startling accomplishment of the gallery is its resilience and continuity over the decades – its unwavering adherence to its core principles.  


  • Participating artists: JoAnne McFarland Sylvia Netzer Ann Pachner Sheila Ross Barbara Roux Ann Schaumburger Kathleen Schneider Susan Bee Daria Dorosh Regina Granne Micthi Iami Louise Kramer Carolyn Martin Louise McCagg Ursula Schneider Francie Shaw Barbara Siegel Joan Snitzer Alice Steinhardt Nancy Storrow Deborah Wasserman

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