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New Long Island City art gallery run by and for artists

Long Island City's newest art gallery is drawing a surprising number of visitors in its first month. Photo courtesy Kaiser Kamel
TimesLedger Newspapers

The newest art gallery in Long Island City is not like the others.

When ArtistRun Gallery, at 36-21 22nd St., opened in early December, the name reflected the ownership. Three Bangladeshi immigrants, weary of the way galleries are run in SoHo and Chelsea, decided to open one of their own as a gallery owned by artists for artists.

“Ninety-nine percent of the galleries in New York City are run by non-artists,” painter Kaiser Kamal said. “In all the galleries we’ve worked over the last 15 years, profit is the bottom line, not the art.”

Kamal joined with another painter, Bishwajit Chowdhury, and ceramic artist Alam Tipu, to convert a building that housed a plumbing consulting firm into a gallery they could run their way.

“Artists should have their own space for creative freedom. At other galleries you are told how to do things with an eye on the almighty dollar,” Kamel said.

The artists community responded immediately with more than 70 submissions for ArtistRun’s design studio. Eight artists were initially selected by the curating team.

In addition to the gallery and design studio, the trio runs a printing service to cover the costs of rent and the extensive renovations that were needed. Kamal was pleased with the turnout for their opening.

“Hundreds showed up each night in the pouring rain. It was very surprising,” he said. “People are becoming aware of us.”

When the trio was hunting for a location for their gallery, they started and finished in Long Island City.

“It’s going to be the next SoHo,” Kamal said. “All the subways are here just a stop away from Manhattan. Plus, there’s a huge Bangladeshi community in Queens and we get a lot of feedback but, of course, the gallery is open to everyone.”

Programming and workshops are in the planning stages at ArtistRun Gallery.

“We’re going to have a CPA come in and teach artists how best to do their taxes,” Kamal said. “And we’ll also have a professional photographer come in one night to teach the artists how best to photograph their work for marketing purposes.”

Also in the works are exchange exhibits with other galleries, an international juries art competition and a workshop for kids.

Their mission is to promote local and international talent from around the world while allowing art lovers to become art collectors.

“The artwork we sell is high quality and we keep prices affordable unlike other galleries,” Kamal said.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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