Art Nests. Sarah Gavlak has made an art gallery out of her apartment. Like a 17th-century saloniste, she aims to spur discussion and create a deeper connection to the artwork. (Photo: Robert Wright for The New York Times)

An empty pizza box was propped against a black fiberglass urn in the hallway outside Three’s Company, a gallery that is also the living room of Alex Gartenfeld and Piper Marshall, roommates in a tiny tenement walkup in Chinatown.

“That’s what can happen to the art after a show,” said Mr. Gartenfeld, indicating the urn, which he explained had been part of an installation last spring by AIDS-3D, a Berlin-based duo who were in the “Younger Than Jesus” show at the New Museum. That the urn was still there was a source of annoyance to both Mr. Gartenfeld and his roommate, he said. “We just don’t have the room.”

It was noon on a recent Saturday, and Mr. Gartenfeld, 23, a slight young man who favors owlish glasses and black-and-white clothing, had just awakened, brushed his teeth in the kitchen sink and opened the gallery for business. Et voilà: There were pieces by Asher Penn, who prints the words “KATE MOSS RORSHACH” over and over on white tape and then makes collages from the tape, set out on a shelf that ringed the narrow living room. A projector on a table was loaded with a film by another artist, Tobias Kaspar, apparently featuring a close-up of hands flipping through a fanzine devoted to Leonardo DiCaprio. But because Mr. Gartenfeld does not know how to work the projector — that’s Ms. Marshall’s talent and she was at work — this reporter had to imagine it.

But she got the picture. Fastidious obsession, with both making stuff and celebrity culture, was the theme of the current show, which is open by appointment and up indefinitely.

Also on view: a sofa, a lamp and a few molded plastic chairs, one with a beer can on its seat. Art?

“Not art,” said Mr. Gartenfeld, whisking the can away.

In a home gallery, sometimes it’s hard to tell.


Penelope Green
New York Times