As a sculptural painter, advocate and entrepreneur, Ryan Lammie has spent more than a decade exploring and analyzing the local art scene. That’s how he discovered an upsetting trend: Over the past few years, Pittsburgh has seen multiple art galleries close due to a range of sustainability challenges.
So last December, Lammie signed a seven-year lease agreement on G1|CW (Gallery One|Collective Works) at 4106 Howley Street in Bloomfield. The new organization provides 700 square feet each of gallery and professional office space for small arts organizations — all under one roof.
The location is also convenient: G1|CW is in close proximity to Silver Eye Center for Photography, Assemble and Boxheart Gallery. But Lammie insists that being part of a bustling arts district is just a bonus — it was the building itself that clinched his decision.
Lammie saw great potential in 2,800-square-foot property, which had housed a sign shop, artist studios, an arts collective and a film production facility since it was built in 1984. He says its white walls and long stretches of daylight fluorescent tube lights reminded him of the simply-constructed galleries he’d seen in Chicago. And the back side is studded with windows, offering plenty of natural light for the co-working space that three or four arts organizations will share at any given time.
“It was very lucky for that building to have come up in that area,” he says. “Things kind of aligned and it made a lot of sense.”
Lammie is also the executive director of Radiant Hall, which he founded in 2012 to provide studio space for artists. Between the two organizations, he aims to cover all bases: studio space, cooperative office space, networking and collaboration with other artists, and gallery space for exhibits.
Artists need all of those to truly succeed. But they can’t all happen in one room.
“You wouldn’t want to run a business out of a studio space with paint fumes and sawdust,” says Lammie.
He believes the co-working space will provide a platform for knowledge-sharing among arts administrators, and he hopes that “being in a shared space in a casual setting will allow people to give off-the-cuff advice to each other.”
“I’m taking the lessons learned from Radiant Hall,” he says, “and transferring them to another focus that I feel passionate about.”
And each piece can help fund the others: He hopes to offset the overhead of running G1|CW with revenue from the gallery and co-working space, and he plans to sublet the basement. Individual artists and collectives can rent Gallery One in two-week increments, which Lammie hopes will make the space financially accessible.
“We’re trying to create a flexible model where artists can sign up for their slots,” he says, “and understand the cost and what they’re getting in return.”
Eight shows are currently planned for the appointment-only gallery, including the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh’s (AAP) group show, “By Means of Play,” which opens on Sunday, April 18.
“G1|CW couldn’t have come at a better time,” says AAP Executive Director Madeline L. Gent.
“Bloomfield is walkable and Garfield is nearby with Silver Eye and other places that create a neighborhood vibe,” she says, “and make the area a destination for arts.”
Gent arrived in Pittsburgh from Washington, D.C. in December. She says she appreciates G1|CW’s emphasis on exhibiting artists’ work in a formal space while fostering an atmosphere of “curatorial development.”
“I really do think great art is being made in Pittsburgh,” says Gent. “We need these spaces and curatorial voices to help exhibit it.”