East End gallerist Tripoli Patterson will debut his new East Hampton location next weekend, April 25, with Félix Bonilla Gerena: For Lisa, the first exhibition in a series that aims to expand upon and refine the vision that has made Tripoli Gallery such a success in Southampton.
“I wasn’t really aggressively looking to expand,” Patterson says, explaining that the new gallery is a partnership with rare book dealer Glenn Horowitz, who approached him with the idea of showing contemporary art on the ground floor of the bookseller’s Newtown Lane space while he sells books upstairs. Patterson says he was happily focused on his Southampton gallery (at 30A Jobs Lane) at the time, but Horowitz presented a win-win offer he couldn’t refuse.
And now that he’s committed, Patterson is taking what he’s learned and fixed bit by bit in Southampton and using it to create a brilliant space from day one in East Hampton. Armed with the knowledge of the past six years, the gallerist’s vision has evolved and matured, and he won’t allow it to be compromised.
Patterson designed a flowing gallery space with a larger office and sturdy walls for hanging. “I’m not duplicating Southampton, I’m taking it a step further,” he explains.
Just three weeks before his scheduled opening, Patterson was told a poured concrete floor might not be possible, given structural concerns, so he had his crew add more load-bearing support columns in the basement. “I bent over backward for that concrete floor,” he says, but Patterson envisioned it for the space and was determined to see it through.
“Here, everything is thought about and decided,” he says, describing himself as meticulous, but not necessarily a control freak. Patterson says he has good people working with him, and he knows he will have to defer to them if he hopes to successfully manage more than one gallery.
“This is a good test to see how to handle multiple spaces,” he says, noting that he’s always imagined Tripoli Gallery with “worldwide outposts,” and East Hampton could be considered the first step in that kind of growth. “I had an international upbringing,” Patterson adds, recalling growing up with his father, Leonardo Patterson, one of the world’s preeminent experts and dealers of pre-Columbian art and artifacts.
While Glenn Horowitz Bookseller and Tripoli Gallery East Hampton will be managed separately, Patterson says he expects people will enjoy visiting the book dealer and the gallery, no matter which brought them through the doors. He and Horowitz have no immediate plans to do joint shows, but Patterson says he is excited to get input from Horowitz about creating beautiful exhibition catalogues, which add further weight and cache to his artists and their work. “He’s done so many books,” Patterson points out, clearly aware that Horowitz is a man at the top of his game. “If you want to learn to surf well, you surround yourself with the best surfers,” he says, propping Horowitz up as the Kelly Slater or Laird Hamilton of the book world.
Patterson, who actually is a professional surfer, began his art career as an independent curator of wildly popular group shows around the Hamptons. Eventually those successes led to opening Tripoli Gallery in Southampton.
Patterson featured Félix Bonilla Gerena for his first exhibition in Southampton, so he’s bringing the Puerto Rican painter back for his East Hampton debut. “His exhibition kind of pushed me to open that Southampton space,” Patterson recalls, explaining that he and Genera have grown together, so it makes sense to open with him again six years later. “I like to evolve, but I also like consistency.”
Gerena’s upcoming solo show, For Lisa, in memory of the late Lisa de Kooning, opens at Tripoli Gallery East Hampton next Saturday, April 25 and continues through May 17. The artist says he named the show for de Kooning because she offered insight into his work, which inspired this new collection of oil paintings.
“Doing group shows is great, but doing solo shows changed the outlook of the gallery,” Patterson says, describing his love of focusing on one artist and really delving deep, studying and exploring his or her work. That said, Tripoli Gallery also puts on wonderful group shows and Patterson has no plans to stop hanging them. His Annual Thanksgiving Collective remains one of the gallery’s most well attended events.
Following Gerena’s show, Tripoli Gallery East Hampton will feature work by stardom-bound rapper and artist Yung Jake, who also happens to be Patterson’s brother, starting Memorial Day weekend.
Along with Jake and plans to exhibit Lola Montes, and perhaps hold a second Thanksgiving show, in East Hampton, Patterson says he expects to bring in outside curators who he respects and admires.
All of these things promise to continue Patterson’s and Tripoli Gallery’s ascent toward becoming one of contemporary art’s most defining voices on the East End.