Sandy Soaks City Galleries

New York's Chelsea district bore the brunt of Hurricane Sandy which caused massive flooding and destruction to numerous galleries. Most of the area is still without basic services such as water, electricity, and metro. A building has collapsed on 14th street near 8th Avenue. (Today's Featured Video)

It may be quite some time before art collectors of ArtKabinett social network get to visit some of their favorite art spaces in this area.

Art dealer Marc Jancou, his jeans soaked to the knees, stood outside his gallery on West 24th Street in Chelsea supervising a clean-up brigade wielding mops and buckets.

A walk through New York’s epicenter of contemporary art this week revealed wide-spread damage. The floodwaters of Hurricane Sandy smashed walls, ravaged office spaces and destroyed artworks.

Next door to Jancou, the water rose some three feet at Susan Inglett Gallery, pictured here. The main exhibition room has puddled into a large pond.

With power out all over Chelsea, galleries resorted to flashlights for illumination.

“This is like a disaster zone,” said Jancou. “Everyone was flooded. Everyone has lost so much art.”

Art dealers and handlers scrambled to move artworks into dry areas. People scooped water by buckets and large garbage bins.

“It’s bad,” said Rachel Churner, who opened Churner and Churner gallery on Tenth Avenue a year-and-a-half ago. Wet cardboard and paintings in bubble wrap piled up on the sidewalk in front of the entrance.

“I’ve probably lost $100,000 worth of art. Our basement is wet all the way to the ceiling,” she said. Churner said the gallery is insured. But she feared “that there’s some act of God or hurricane clause.”

Under Water

On West 19th Street, Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert gallery, which has an exhibition space on the basement level, was completely flooded.

“It’s all under water,” said Erika Burgos, who has been with the gallery for 10 years, pointing her flashlight at the flooded staircase leading downstairs. She said she managed to save a few pictures.

The area in front of the Andrea Rosen Gallery on West 24th Street in Chelsea is littered with wet cardboard and debris caused by the flooding.

Across the street, at David Zwirner, art handlers were moving paintings to dry ground. The watermark from flooding was visible on the doors and walls several feet from the ground.

It was the same story at Paula Cooper and Gagosian galleries on West 21st Street, where a giant Henry Moore sculpture, in protective wrapping, could be seen through the window.

The true damage will take “a long time to shake out,” said art dealer Leo Koenig. “It brings tears to my eyes. I don’t care about the damage to the gallery. That’s fixable. The irreplaceable art that has been lost -- that’s the worst of it.”

Art dealer Margaret Thatcher, who operates a gallery on West 23rd Street, pointed to a folder of approximately 40 drawings for an upcoming exhibition. Priced at $5,000 each, all were soaked.

TEAMKABINETT attempted to contact many other galleries in other hard hit areas, e.g., SoHo, Williamsburg, Rivington, etc. Phone lines ran busy, or were un connectable. We can only assume that they remain without basic services, as well.

For individuals attempting to make it work today, New York's Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has suspended all fares on public transport. Many areas, including Long Beach on the ocean front side of the City are still completely inaccessible.