Maspeth isn’t known for much, except being a double-ticket neighborhood—to arrive or escape, you have to take the train to the bus, or vice versa. If anything, Maspeth is just known for being Maspeth, and even Maspeth agrees: in an interview with the New York Times, life-long resident Robert Holden said, “When people ask where we’re from, we don’t say Queens, and we don’t say New York. We say Maspeth.”
That humble, self-assured attitude—paired with an extremely modest, good-looking price tag—is what convinced Greenpoint residents Sara Maria Salamone and Tyler Lafreniere to open Mrs. Gallery on a quiet, tree-lined Maspeth street, just a few doors down from a classic Polish deli and around the corner from (sorry, Maspeth) basically nothing.
In New York, and Brooklyn, expensive everything means galleries, studios, and artists keep pushing farther and farther away from an imagined epicenter, but Maspeth is still mostly uncharted territory. Except for the massive Knockdown Center, which is really a concert and event facility, Mrs. is the only gallery around. But Salamone and Lafreniere don’t really care: they’ve both worked in the art world for several years, Lafreniere as an artist, most recently represented by Launch F18, and Salamone as a curator for a variety of non-profit organizations and galleries, including Casey Kaplan, Site95, and Launch F18. They’ve seen enough to know that if the work is good, people will come. And if they don’t, they’re still doing something they really enjoy.
When Mrs. Gallery first signed the lease at 60-40 56th Drive, intense renovation was required. Lafreniere explained, “Twenty-something years ago it was a deli, and then it was dollar store storage, so essentially the gate has been down for twenty years. Two to three layers of tile covered the floor, most of it broken, and the walls were terrible.” Salamone added, “Everything was covered in kitchen grease. It was so vile.”
Although they expected to open the gallery in June, Salamone and Lafreniere’s wedding “sort of got in the way,” but that delay didn’t seem to bother them at all. In every case, Mrs. Gallery is bucking the “do it now or someone will beat you to it” mentality that seems to plague a lot of small, artist-run spaces and New York endeavors in general.
Instead of the usual six-week exhibition cycle, they’ve decided on longer, more luxurious timeframes. On September 10, their inaugural show featuring Omari Douglin opened (a really curious, confident, wonderful must-see show) and after it closes on November 5th, Tracy Miller and Sarah Bedford will co-headline an exhibition opening November 19.
Maybe it’s Maspeth’s subtle influence, but the slower pace seems to suit Salamone and Lafreniere, who both work other jobs and are raising a five-year-old daughter. When asked if they hope to make money, Lafreniere confirmed that the gallery is, in fact, an LLC. Salamone added, “Do we hope to make money? Yes. Do we expect to make money? Not really, but we’re going to try.”