Oct 19, 2020
Public Program


After careful deliberation and long discussions over the past six months, the Board of Directors and the Executive Director have arrived at the difficult decision to close Art in General, upon reaching the milestone of our 40th anniversary. Although we have taken critical measures to adjust to the new normal, the financial constriction due to the COVID-19 pandemic has proved formidable, severely affecting our ability to fulfill our mission of presenting new work by emerging and mid-career artists to the New York area.

In this difficult time for us all, we offer our sincere thanks to you — our alumni artists, guest curators, visitors, former staff and donors — for your passion and dedication, interest and support during the last forty years. You made this amazing journey possible. In particular, we would like to thank our founders, Martin Weinstein and Tereza Liszka, for their generosity over the years, as well as our former directors, Anne Barlow and Laurel Ptak for their innovative programming that defined our organization. In addition, we would like to express our gratitude to Mana Contemporary for offering great support to Art in General, including an incredible lifeline: office space, studio space for artist residencies, and exhibition space.

We would also like to offer sincere thanks to our Board members, Roya Khadjavi Heidari, Mary Lapides and Maria Spinelli for all of their efforts and expenditure of resources in trying to sustain Art in General over the years, and particularly of late. Thanks also to our Executive Director, Irene Mei Zhi Shum, who joined us right at the start of the pandemic, and labored mightily to keep us afloat.

Since 1981, Art in General has proudly shown over 2,000 artists who have gone onto greater success, including Dorothea Rockburne, Joan Jonas, Kay WalkingStick, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Glenn Ligon, Byron Kim, Elizabeth Peyton, Marina Abramovic, Gabriel Orozco, Paul Pfeiffer, William Pope.L, Pipilotti Rist, Francis Alys, Walid Raad, Sharon Hayes, Patty Chang, Allora & Calzadilla, Pierre Huyghe, among many others. Our roster of artists reflects our deep and long-standing commitment to diversity and equity in the arts. To secure this legacy, we have donated our archives to the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, where students and scholars may find materials about our past programs, as well as founding documents and the entirety of Holly Block’s papers during her 18-year tenure as Art in General’s pioneering first director. To complement the papers at the Smithsonian, we also donated a complete set of publications by Art in General to New York University Special Collections — Fales Library, Downtown Collection. Our remaining inventory of books and printed materials were gifted to Art Resources Transfer, a nonprofit organization committed to the egalitarian access to the arts and literacy. Through their Distribution to Underserved Communities Library Program, A.R.T. will disperse Art in General’s publications free-of-charge to rural and inner-city public libraries, schools, prisons, and alternative education centers nationwide.

We are proud to present our last New Commission, Project 270: Signs of Change and online exhibition Dropped By and Found You: #DroppedByAiG.

Project 270: Signs of Change is an ambitious, national effort to increase voter awareness and turnout, particularly amongst Millennials and Gen Z — voters between the ages of 18 to 38 — who represent the future of our country and nearly 40% of the electorate in 2020. By flooding the country with Get Out The Vote (GOTV) images, posters, billboards, and other art in the three weeks prior to election day, Project 270 will get critical information into the hands of individuals and organizations in a creative form that will motivate young voters and reflect the collective consciousness of the United States. To do this, we are partnering with outstanding graphic and street artists from each state, DC, and Puerto Rico to create posters that speak to the issues of their specific locales. To maximize the reach and overall impact of the project, all imagery created will be made available to the public for free, via digital distribution and local voting organizations.

Project 270 is a collaboration between This Is Our Moment, I Vote Because, Mana Urban Arts Project, Gary Lichtenstein Editions, Jonathan Mannion Photography, Art in General, and Murals for Humanity. This group came together in August 2020 realizing the urgent need to compel young voters to participate in the election. Our distribution partners include Vote Save America, Voto Latino, ACLU Ohio, Occupy Democrats, Fair Elections Center, League of Women Voters San Francisco, and the Campus Vote Project. The participating artists are diverse and reflective of the American populace.

Dropped By and Found You: #DroppedByAiG is an archival exhibition published weekly on Art in General’s social media accounts. Accumulated from 2003 to 2017, the contents reflect the rhythms and interests of our organization over the last fifteen years. While perhaps not pressing, what remains here was essential and is preserved.

Though our last day of operation will be October 31, 2020, Project 270 and #DroppedByAiG will continue and conclude on their scheduled end dates, November 3, 2020 and December 31, 2020 respectively. Despite our closing, we look toward the future with excitement, because New York City always attracts the best new creative talent. Artists and the arts define and drive our vibrant city.

With thanks and gratitude,

Leslie Ruff
President, Board of Directors

Irene Mei Zhi Shum
Executive Director

Art in General Thanks Artists & Organizers
Download PDF

Related Press


ARTNEWS. “Art in General, Crucial New York Alternative Space, to Close Because of Covid-19” October 15, 2020. Read Online

ARTNET. “Art in General, the Beloved Alternative Art Space That Gave Many Stars Their First Shows, Will Close Due to the Pandemic: Its history will be held at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.” October 15, 2020. Read Online

HYPERALLERGIC. “Art in General, Beloved Brooklyn Arts Nonprofit, Announces Closure” October 15, 2020. Read Online

HYPERALLERGIC. “Week in Review: Transitions” October 16, 2020. Read Online

BROOKLYN RAIL. “Celebrating Art In General” October 19, 2020. Watch Online