From championing young emerging talent to showcasing historically significant artists, this gallery crows out of the pack with its unique diversified programming and brand of art. Rooster gallery has been featured by AF last year with Jaro 1: Guy Goldstein / Erin Dunn, Nico: New York, New York by Jerry Schatzberg, and early this year reviewed the video art pioneer, Wolf Vostell. The awesome twosome behind this art space consists of Alexander Slonevsky (Director) and André Escarameia (Curator). Both met at Sotheby’s then worked for a gallery on the Bowery before eventually opening their own in the Lower East Side art row of Orchard Street. AF managed to pin down the dynamic duo to answer some questions and see how this pair works it out together. Hopefully it won’t escalate into a cockfight!
Arte Fuse: What qualities did you see in each other that made you decide to venture opening a gallery together?
André Escarameia: Alex actually was the first person I met in New York. I guess we got along very well from the first moment. We were colleagues at Sotheby’s and later on we worked together at his father-in-law’s gallery – Janos Gat Gallery – so we knew that not only we got along very well but we also knew how to work together. When the time came we just decided to open the gallery and I wouldn’t have done it with anyone else.
Alex Slonevsky: André is very passionate about the things he is interested in. He started talking about opening a gallery when we first met and didn’t stop until it was opened.
AF: Here is a “cocky” question. (pardon the pun.) Explain the reason why you named your gallery – ROOSTER?
André: Pardonned! (for the pun) Our names would sound strange together and pretty much a tongue twister for the majority of people. Some time before this was even an issue, I offered Alex a rooster made out of clay with an American flag painted on it. Picking the name Rooster was logical and simple, although we like the innuendo!
Alex: That pretty much sums it up..
AF: In every partnership, there must be synchronicity – so what are your specific strengths that you bring to the table?
André: Alex works really hard, he is the person who brings me down to reason when I get carried away by folly. He is an extremely talented designer. He was the one who created the look of the gallery. He is the one who makes the gallery visible to the outside world.
Alex: I’m the “Jack of all trades” but André was born to do one thing: run a contemporary art gallery.
AF: Is it always a love fest? But do you guys ever disagree or fight over certain things?
André: We insult each other on a daily basis. We pretty much have always agreed upon the basics but every now and then we disagree on things which, in my opinion, are secondary. Despite the fact that we disagree on a few things, we agree in the essentials.
Alex: Of course we disagree over little things from time to time but when it comes to the big stuff we always share similar opinions on how to proceed.
AF: What is special about the Lower East Side neighborhood?
André: I think the Lower East Side still retains some characteristics that differentiates it from other neighborhoods in the city, namely art neighborhoods: it is still very casual, easy going, still has that feeling of a neighborhood (although this might be changing faster than we would wish), and art wise it allows experimentation… This combined with its affordability, of course.
Alex: LES is and has always been a unique neighborhood in the city. It has certainly changed over the years but everything has. My father grew up here and I think about how I never even got to see his Lower East Side. The most important feature for us is that it is an affordable area for new galleries to set up shop and express their visions.
AF: Besides art – what are your other passions?
André: Vinyl records, books, football (soccer), smoking and bourbon.
Alex: Design (all kinds), historical fiction, renovating things, running, football, baseball and bourbon.
AF: When you become a Gagosian sized art empire, which country will have a Rooster Gallery branch first?
André: Ask Alex… By then he will be managing the empire by himself since I will be retired and living in a secluded area of the world, where nobody can really contact me, except Alex since he has to send me my share of the royalties.
Alex: Which ever country André thinks he’s escaping to…
AF: Name your favorite chicken dish.
André: Not really fond of chicken…
Alex: I don’t eat meat anymore, but my mother makes one hell of a chicken cutlet!
AF: Finish this sentence: Art is honest when…
André: …still trying to figure that out.
Alex: Art is always honest, it’s people who lie.
AF: Now something to crow about – what makes Rooster Gallery unique?
André: That’s something that can only be answered by others. From my perspective, we try to have a diversified program since Alex and I also have distinct perceptions, references and instincts. I don’t like sectarianism, academically speaking it would be impossible for me to behave in such manner. Therefore the only possible solution is to have a broad and comprehensive program.
Alex: We make it unique. People always tell us that our gallery and openings have a great vibe. That stems from our upbeat and inviting attitudes. Running any business is serious work but if you’re not having fun then what’s the point.
The next show on their roster is Balàzs Kicsiny : The Checkered Doubt opening on March 6th (6 – 8 pm) but on view till March 17th. Concurrently, the artist is also featured at VOLTA NY during art fair week.
Rooster Gallery. 190 Orchard Street. NYC, NY 10002.
Gallery Hours: Wednesday – Sunday (12 – 7 pm) & Monday/Tuesday by appt.
No feathers flew or any cockfighting occurred during the interview. My favorite chicken dish is just good ol’ fried chicken but I’m sure I’ll wash it down with bourbon when I’m around these guys.
interview by: Oscar A. Laluyan
profile picture provided by Rooster Gallery
additional photo by Deukyun Hwang