Gone are the days when New York’s art scene was concentrated solely within Manhattan. Case in point: An exciting new fine art gallery centered on Hasidic artists and identities opened within the Jewish Satmar community of Williamsburg this month. The Shtetl Gallery, named after the Yiddish word that signifies a close-knit community, debuted its premiere exhibition on June 15. The new show spotlights several Hasidic artists from across the world and explores layered themes surrounding contemporary Hasidic life and theology.
Zalmen Glauber, artist and founder of Shtetl Gallery, strives to “challenge common perceptions of his community as an insular, ultra-conservative collective frozen in time” through the new space and the art displayed there, per arts website Hyperallergic. The vision of Hasidic life on display is more progressive and inclusive than simplistic perceptions of the community might normally allow: The work of women artists are included and Glauber is even open to displaying the work of “non-jews” whose work touches on matters of importance to the community. Glauber told Hyperallergic, “The idea behind the gallery is to create a platform for Hasidic artists to show their work but also to get our messages, emotions, and stories to the greater public. I would love this to create some kind of a dialogue with other communities.”
On its website, Shtetl Gallery elaborates on its progressive mission, writing, “The Gallery’s primary aim is to create a center for Hasidic art in the heart of vibrant Williamsburg, to introduce & educate the greater NYC populace to the thriving Chasidic community. The Gallery will open a lens & showcase a side to this “hidden insular” community that was not available to the general public prior to this opening.”
Lately, buzzy art galleries have found a home in Williamsburg, including 17 Frost and Carrie Able. However, a gallery such a Shtetl Gallery feels especially urgent and vital, as Williamsburg’s Hasidic Jewish community, which has deep ties to the neighborhood, navigates the pressures of rapidly encroaching gentrification and rising rent. Recognizing the importance of Shtetl Gallery, mayoral candidate and Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams attended the space’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Visitors to Shtetl can expect to find a wide array of art on display currently, including bronzes of various characters from the seminal Jewish classic Fiddler on The Roof, triptychs from the women artist Rosa Katzenelson, and sculptures that deftly evade breaking the Judaism's rules against idolatry through creative omissions of body parts and features.
If you’re interested in checking out the latest addition to New York’s art scene, Shtetl Gallery is located inside the Condor Hotel at 56 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205. The gallery is open by appointment only Monday and Tuesdays and for walk-ins on Wednesdays, 12-5. You can find out more information here.