Cultured Magazine

April/May 2015

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Gavin Brown's Enterprise has been a breeding ground for talent—and not just of the artist variety. Quite a few of its staff have set off on their own, including Bridget Donahue, who for 10 years was the gallery's director and Brown's right hand. When Donahue found herself at that pivotal mid-30s intersection of experience and independence, she "seized the opportunity." Donahue headed across town from the West Village to Chinatown, on a strip of the Bowery that has remained unencroached. On the second floor, above the dried fish marts on the Bowery, Donahue presides over her new gallery, a mere stone's throw from the edgy Lower East Side gallery community. It's not that she minds the close proximity to the thriving scene—especially as recent developments suggest it's no longer just a haven for the "emerging." Zach Feuer and Joel Mesler are teaming up, Richard Taittinger is moving in and Sargent's Daughters is showing established talent. But, Donahue seems unconcerned with what's happening around her—she's just here, as she's relayed to many, to showcase the sort of artists who might be overlooked in the market-tempting spaces nearby. While Donahue nonchalantly concedes that "so far it feels pretty natural," in fact, her program suggests anything but the expected. When she swung open the doors on February 9, her inaugural artist was Lynn Hershman Leeson, who may strike a bell in some minds as that über-art house film director beloved by Tilda Swinton, who starred in a few of her gritty, fantastical creations, such as Strange Culture (2007), Conceiving Ada (1997) and Teknolust (2002). For many, however, it has been the first introduction to the 73-year-old San Francisco artist, who since 1973 has simultaneously been living as her alter-ego Roberta Breitmore, an assumed real citizen with all the particulars that reveal as much: a bank account, driver license and credit cards. And this private performance is only now, both at Donahue's space, as well as the Zentrum Für Kunst Und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe, Germany, where Breitmore has first come out to play—though her photographic and technological documentations of identity, which were birthed years before Cindy Sherman and the Pictures Generation assumed a near-identical character. "A gallery exhibition was a needed anchor, especially in New York, to centralize and promote all of these major events," says Donahue, to "showcase the incredible work Lynn's been doing consistently since the late 1950s." Though Donahue doesn't want to give too much a way about her plans for ther gallery, the upcoming lineup: 1990s New York cult fashion designer and filmmaker Susan Cianciolo, followed by conceptual entrepreneur Martine Syms and painter John Russell. And while starting a new gallery is plenty to keep busy with, Donahue also co-directs Greenpoint's experimental space Cleopatra's, which will be showing Mamiko Otsubo come spring. She also has a bit of a passion project, working with the artist Jory Rabinovitz, who's also her boyfriend. 102 CULTURED With a stable of artists and a desire to showcase the overlooked, Bridget Donahue plants her flag in Chinatown with a brand new gallery. BY JULIE BAUMGARDNER PORTRAIT BY JASON M. RODGERS BREAKOUT STAR

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