As with many close-knit creative scenes, the Marietta Square Art Walk is the lifeblood of its small-time galleries. So when social-distancing guidelines forced organizers to cancel the April event, the community banded together to keep a version of it alive.
Gallerists brainstormed ways they could share their newly curated shows with the community. So curators hung art as if they were preparing for first Friday crowds, then came their lone visitor: Jennifer Boykin, a photographer and member of the Marietta Arts Council, with a 3-D camera to bring the art to life online. The gallerists bought the domain OnlineArtWalk.com, where Boykin uploaded the digital tour — enabling gallery hoppers to click their way through five space and zoom in on pieces.
As gallerists see art sales crashing while their spaces remain closed, many are now investing in virtual shows for the first time like many of the big museums are doing around the world. Think of it as Google Street View for exploring craftier and more homespun shows in towns such as Marietta as well as dense gallery districts in art hubs like New York City and London.
Well-traveled art critics observe that digital shows can’t quite match the real-life tours. But with travel restricted for the near future, Eazel — which aspires to be a sort of Netflix for the art world — and similar platforms like Artland and Google Art & Culture enable you to keep the art-walk experience alive.
You only need WiFi (and maybe a bottle of wine) to dive into your own digital outing. But to get you clicking in the right direction, we spoke with scene insiders in a few art hot spots to give you a local’s view, even from afar.
Clusters of forward-thinking spaces counter the City of Lights’ somewhat old-school reputation. “The art scene in Paris is diverse and multicultural,” says Guillaume Piens, director of Art Paris, a leading modern and contemporary art fair. “One will find blue-chip galleries rubbing shoulders with galleries I would call ‘galeries d’auteur’ — by which I mean that, just like a ‘film d’auteur,’ an art film, these galleries have their own unique editorial line and represent artists who deserve to be discovered or rediscovered.”
Start with some of the more prominent galleries throughout the city, which include international heavyweights Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Perrotin, Galerie Xippas and Galerie Templon. Then pop into a few of the most current exhibits: “The Shape of Colour” at Galerie RX, displaying recent work by Hermann Nitsch, a founder of the Viennese Actionism movement, and “La fabrique du temps” at Galerie Dix9, a small space that typically focuses on emerging artists.
Piens suggests the Marian Goodman Gallery, currently showing a video installation by the Dutch artist Rineke Dijkstra, and Galerie Templon’s solo show of Malawi-born artist Billie Zangewa. Even this year’s edition of Art Paris (May 27-31) is pivoting its showcase of 150-plus galleries to an all-digital fair.
Claiming more artists per capita than many more established art cities, Germany’s cosmopolitan capital represents Europe’s creative fringes. “Berlin’s gallery scene is special because, relative to cities like London and New York, the social-economic hierarchy here is less present and the scene is generally more relaxed,” says Laurie Rojas an art critic and writer based in Berlin.
Some of the city’s most prolific galleries capture interactive versions of their marquee shows, including west Berlin’s Contemporary Fine Arts — check out the current exhibits “Space Lips” and “Akademie Rousseau” — and KOW in the Mitte neighborhood, where you can see the recent “Machines to Change the World.”
In Kreuzberg, you can tour several new exhibits inside König Galerie, which presents a wide range of work from young and emerging artists. And unconventional gallery concepts like Office Impart routinely experiment with physical and virtual spaces; their May multi-artist “Office Presentation” is among the more than 100 Berlin exhibits you can see on Artland.
“I believe IRL [in real life] and really well done virtual experiences both have different benefits and it’s well worth checking out something new online if you are seeking a little escapism,” says Rojas. She recommends surfing through the Berlinische Galerie and Julia Stoschek Collection, which she says has “one of the best video art and film collections in the world.”
The creative surge of South Korea’s megacity continues to turn heads, but its art scene is anything but a trend. “While Seoul’s standing as an art destination has recently gained more international attention with the opening of new outposts by larger, global galleries, the city’s cultural landscape has always been very robust,” says Amy Gahyun Lee, chief content officer at Eazel.
A notable example of this cross-pollination is the Hollywood-based gallery Various Small Fires, which expanded to Seoul last year. The current show at VFA’s newest space, “Alternative Facts” brings Josh Kline’s mixed-media sculptures inspired by American political dysfunction to Asia for his first solo exhibition on the continent. In recent weeks, VFA’s proprietor has garnered headlines for offering Zoom walk-throughs of Kline’s show. It’s also one of several new exhibits up on Eazel, which maintains Seoul’s largest archive of 3-D gallery tours, including popular spots such as PKM Gallery, Lehmann Maupin and Paradise ZIP.
A perk of virtual gallery tours is the sense of time travel you get by revisiting since-closed shows — something that connects “visitors and venues beyond the geographic and temporal limitations of in-real-life gallery encounters,” says Eazel founder Eric Yoon.
Eazel lets you browse past shows to see more than 75 closed exhibitions from Seoul galleries. He cites “Even here, I exist” by the artists Katarina Stöver and Barbara Wolff at Barakat Contemporary, “Sarah Lucas: Supersensible, Works 1991-2012” at Jason Haam and “Min ha Park: Sun Gone” at ONE and J. Gallery as a few of his favorites. Digging into the not-so-distant past in the Eazel and Artland archives shows how dynamic art scenes in cities like Seoul continue to evolve and adapt, even when you can’t show up in person.