Howard Scott Gallery
20th St 7th floor
New York, NY
By Nancy Egol Nikkal
Lance Letscher is a gallery artist based in Austin, TX and works primarily in collage. During the interview with Howard Scott I got to look at Letscher’s work.
The work seen here is titled Angular Landscape, 2nd Version (2001). It’s collage on masonite, 21x 39 1/8 inches, and is included in the collection of Best Checks Inc., Sterling, VA. It’s reproduced from an exhibition catalog: Lance Letscher/Someone’s Life.
I am a collage artist and especially interested in galleries that show artists who work on or in paper.
The Howard Scott gallery is one I’ve returned to again and again over the years because of the really top quality exhibitions. Most exhibitions are wall hung two-dimensional oil on canvas. Some include mixed media as well as paintings. The aesthetic is minimal and geometric abstraction.
The Howard Scott Gallery started in the East Village as M-13, moved to SoHo, changed its name to Howard Scott (the director’s name), and is now located at 529 West 20 Street (7th floor), in Chelsea in NYC.
There are about 20 artists represented by the gallery, including Lance Letscher and Henri Platt, who work primarily in collage.
The following interview of Howard Scott solicited his comments about the history of the gallery, about how he promotes his artists in the US and abroad, and about the gallery artists who work in collage.
Questions included: Why did he choose the artists he did? How is collage valued by patrons of contemporary art (compared to other media)? How is collage viewed by art historians, critics and museum professionals?
Question: Please talk about the gallery aesthetic and why the collage artists were chosen for gallery representation:
HS: collage is not the primary focus of the gallery, but the roster includes 2 artists who work primarily in collage (but that is not the reason they are gallery artists). The main gallery focus is painting.
Scott decided he would not get involved in video or photography.
Question: How did you find your artists?
HS: I found or discovered artists, or they were introduced to me through other gallery artists.
For example, I discovered the collage artist Lance Letscher through a friend about 10 years ago who wanted me to view two works by Letscher in his private collection. I visited the friend’s home, saw the work and was interested in learning more about the artist, contacted the artist and asked him to send work to the gallery. Letscher sent a lot of still life drawings and collages (leaves and vines).
Scott told the artist the work was not right for the gallery, but encouraged him to do more abstract work and keep in touch. After a few years, Scott invited Letscher to join the gallery. Letscher’s first exhibition was a group show at the SoHo Greene Street location, followed by solo exhibitions.
Scott says he looks for work with fresh ideas, work that is exciting to him, that moves him. He wants to see art exploring something new and different.
Letscher’s 1st group show had no sales. Now his has a whole body of collectors and Scott will take the work to Berlin, Munich and Barcelona.
Scott says the role of a gallery director – if he likes the direction of the work – is to get the artist’s career out there because it benefits the artist’s career and larger reputation.
Scott travels to Europe frequently, especially Berlin, which he views as one of the most exciting place for contemporary art right now because the population is very strong on contemporary art and very receptive to any art medium that is good and exciting.
He says the European public is more informed about collage than the American audience. There is no bias against collage. People respond visually to things that appeal to them – and are not influenced by trendy tastemakers.
I asked about the great divide – high art and low art – and where collage fits in.
Question: Is collage acceptable formally in contemporary abstract art? Is there a bias against contemporary collage (vs a vs other media) by art collectors, gallery and museum directors? Do they rank it lower than painting?
HS: Collage is not considered low art – how about Georges Bracque?
Lance Letscher’s large collage – a great work – was hanging in Howard Scott’s office while I did the interview. It was an incredible treat to sit there for about one half hour and get to look at the work up close and in depth.
Scott said Letscher was classically trained and now collage is his primary media. He added, the artist is very steeped in art history. His work is immediate, exciting. He transforms materials – old letters, recipes and other paper. He chooses vintage materials that are settled and not going to fade.
Scott also spoke about Henri Platt (the gallery’s 2nd collage artist) who is from the Netherlands and is known in Holland as a collage artist.
Question: Do critics write about collage shows differently than about other media? Have collage artists at the gallery gotten reviews?
HS: Lance got coverage in Art in America. But the gallery exhibitions in general do not get adequate coverage.
This is too bad. My opinion is that the Howard Scott Gallery has a wonderful roster of artists and exhibitions that deserve wider viewership. If you like contemporary abstract works in painting and collage media, this gallery is always worth a visit.
See the web site: www.howardscottgallery.com for information and announcements of future shows.
About Howard Scott and about the gallery:
Scott founded the gallery and been its director for 21 years. The original gallery name (founded in 1985) was M13 because the gallery was located on East 9th Street and the M13 bus stopped in front. The gallery moved from the East Village to SoHo, at 72 Greene Street, and changed the name to Howard Scott while in SoHo. The gallery has been at the Chelsea location, 529 W. 20, 7th floor, for 7 years. Chelsea and the building are a great location.
Howard Scott is not an artist, not by training, but is a very successful gallery director, one who is very supportive of his artists and promoting their careers in the US and abroad (and has recently been active in Germany and other cities in Europe).