Julia Dippelhofer and Michael Nevin, co-founders and co-owners of Brooklyn-based The Journal Gallery, field questions from Dallas-based collector Christen Wilson.
Take us to the beginning. What’s the story behind the start of The Journal Gallery? Where and when did you and co-founder Julia Dippelhofer meet? Which came first, the gallery or the magazine?
Michael: I started the journal in 1999, during my first year of school at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts. Julia was an au pair in the next town over, and we both signed up for a black-and-white photography course at the school. I had just published the first issue of the journal at Kinko’s and gave her a copy. The photography teacher basically set us up by suggesting Julia and I work on an assignment together. After graduating, we moved to NY and shortly after took over a large garage space on East 6th Street in the East Village, which became the journal office. The gallery grew out of having so much space and involved the people we were working with for the magazine. It was a really exciting time with so many people coming by. We never planned to have a commercial gallery; we just wanted to show art, have fun and inspire others. One day a collector came in and bought 25 drawings, which was really the start of the gallery. Up until that time, we had only really thought about the magazine, and we liked the energy and immediacy that the gallery added … Biggest break: opening our new space. We had been in a shoebox of a space for five years after leaving the East Village, where we had been from 2004 to 2007. We were all sitting at one small desk, a little too close for comfort, and it was impossible to have any privacy. People would come in and drop off things for the editorial office, or the gallery director, not knowing that we were all right there … We understood that in order to grow we would have to move, and we ended up with the most beautiful gallery, just steps from the old one. Julia’s brother, Dominik Dippelhofer, who is an architect based in Luxembourg, designed the space, and Julia oversaw the building and details, and put together and managed an incredible crew. For me, it’s the most beautiful gallery I’ve seen. I wouldn’t change one thing.
Julia and Michael: When it comes to Brooklyn, we found the perfect home. Artists can’t really afford to be in Manhattan anymore, so the majority of them are here, it’s like having the kitchen and the dining room under one roof; we are in studios almost every day. Williamsburg is also the fastest growing neighborhood in New York right now, and collectors enjoy that about coming out here.
What drew you to participate in the Dallas Art Fair 2013?
Julia and Michael: Word of mouth. We had heard great things from other gallerists, and people kept asking if we had heard of it and if we had been to Dallas. We had the sense that it was an interesting place to be.
How does the model of an art gallery and magazine work?
Julia and Michael: In a sense, one can support the other, meaning that content in the magazine could sometimes lead to work being shown in the gallery and vice-versa. In many ways, the magazine has inspired the growth of the gallery because it is a unique aspect of what we do. Our approach was always very organic and sincere, and a lot of it was just evolution into what it has become now. At times, the borders between gallery and magazine were a lot less defined. We take both very seriously, and while we enjoy working on both, not everything that is fit for the magazine would be something that we would consider as something that would make sense with the programming of the gallery.
Michael: We used to have a very popular blog that would cover our openings and people that would come to them at the beginning of our time in New York. We had outgrown it, but when we redesigned our website we wanted to keep that more immediate response to what was happening on a daily basis with both the magazine and the gallery. The magazine is an incredible outlet but it’s only released twice a year. The blog sort of supplements that schedule, and gives a look into what we are up to and working on, it also operates on a more personal level. The first blog post was video of a guy doing pushups on the Bowery, which mirrored the idea of the blog as an exercise for me. You will have to check the site to see (thejournalinc.com) … How Julia and I divide up the duties [of gallery and magazine] — we are both very different people in a sense, I tend to think up these crazy ideas and Julia is able to edit, to form them and make them better. It’s a very symbiotic relationship that benefits from our differences. We both work on the magazine and the gallery which can be challenging, but it is what we are passionate about.
Can you reveal any surprises for your Dallas Art Fair booth?
Julia and Michael: We are bringing two New York painters to Dallas, Jeff Elrod and Kika Karadi. Jeff had the last show at the gallery, which was a huge success, and has a show up now at P.S.1, which is really worth seeing, and Kika we only met recently. They are both making abstract paintings, but they also share this base in technology and how work can be made from it. While Jeff’s paintings are derived from quick sketches made on the computer, Kika’s work is made by projecting old horror films onto the canvas. They share an affinity for the screen, and their paintings, although very different in a visual sense, really work together.
How would you describe your gallery’s aesthetic?
Julia and Michael: We tend to stay away from rigid definition, which doesn’t mean that we are less serious about it, but we don’t want to be limited by categorization. We feel very strongly about what art we want to show, and although the mediums vary, we believe that the group of artists we exhibited in the gallery share similar ideas and create work that will one day be seen as a movement. It’s difficult to explain what we show, but we stay clear of the decorative and the overly esoteric. We look for work that speaks to us, that causes a reaction that makes us ask questions.
Where do you find new talent?
Julia and Michael: Almost always through friends and by being curious. Once I was walking down the street, and a stranger, who recognized me, asked me to visit his studio, which happened to be right there. I think the best way to find something interesting is to be open to it … [And it’s] an emotional response. We never decide based on what others are saying. Often you can make a good call not only by looking at the work but also by getting a sense how serious and committed the artist is. There are a lot of artists that can produce good-looking work, but you often have to break through the physical aspect of the work to see how it will hold up over time.
Do you have any connections to Texas in terms of curators, other gallerists or artists?
Michael: Julia and I have never been to Texas before and are excited to meet new people.
What is on your list of exhibitions and travels for 2013?
Julia and Michael: The Venice Biennale.
Do you have any must-sees while you’re in Dallas?
Julia and Michael: Giraffes at the zoo.
DALLAS ART FAIR: April 12 - 14, 2013; Preview Gala April 11, 2013