This February, Memphis will see the return of gallerist, art consultant, and painter Jay Etkin. Etkin previously operated first-of-their-kind galleries in the Cooper-Young and South Main neighborhoods. His South Main gallery closed in 2008, and Etkin relocated from Memphis to Santa Fe. After six years away, Etkin will re-enter the Memphis art scene by opening another Cooper-Young space, at 942 S. Cooper, only a stone's throw away from the location of his first Memphis gallery.
The new Jay Etkin Gallery is an old storefront space (formerly an overstuffed odds-and-ends shop) incarnated into a large, track-lit white room. Floating display walls are buttressed by steel columns. Etkin worked collaboratively with architect Jeff Blackledge to leave parts of the building's original structure revealed: cement floors and wooden rafters provide some context for the white box gallery space.
Says Etkin, "I didn't seek out Cooper-Young until I knew there was an available space. But as soon as I heard that this place was available, I said, 'Hold the space for me!' It had my look."
Etkin's new gallery is slightly smaller that his South Main space, but it has a characteristically "open around the edges" feel. It is easy to imagine the new gallery as a home for the sort of traditional abstract work that Etkin has shown in the past.
The gallerist says that he envisions this new space as an ideal place for group shows. He hopes to be able to give emerging Memphis artists gallery representation and more exposure to potential buyers. He sees the gallery as ideal for multimedia work, and wants to host dance, music and theater performances alongside fine art shows.
In a city with relatively few galleries (and particularly few galleries designed to represent and sell for artists), Etkin's presence will certainly be felt. This new gallery offers something slightly different than any other arts venue in Memphis: a commercial space with an eye towards collaborative and multidisciplinary work.
The gallery will open sometime in late February with work by several veteran Etkin-represented artists, including Roy Tamboli, Pam Cobb and Marc Rouillard.