After graduating from New York University’s art program, the three artists Sydney Smith, Dennis Witkin, and Emma Hazen found themselves adrift in a prohibitively expensive city, with sky-high real-estate costs putting financial burdens on even the most indie sectors of the art scene. So, they decided to take matters in to their own hands, linking up with the artist Robert Grand—a graduate of Nashville’s Watkins College of Art—to start their own gallery in one of the city’s last redoubts of affordability: Queens.
Opening a year ago, Kimberly-Klark—a name meant to both recall the Kimberly-Clark industrial paper conglomerate and other fictitious dealer names like Reena Spaulings and Regina Rex—has allowed the artists to keep their heads above the water. “We don’t have the rent of a Lower East Side gallery, so we don’t have to worry about sales as much as a Lower East Side gallery,” says Smith. “Being in Queens allows us to give artists the exposure that showing in New York affords, with less commercial pressure. We want to provide our artists with space to experiment.” The gallery also tries to bring in up-and-comers from outside the city to share the opportunity more broadly.
At the fair, the artists brought several cast-concrete tub lids that Libby Rothfeld, the first artist who showed at Kimberly-Klark, coated with shellac and adorned with images referencing pop culture alongside elements of Jewish mysticism ($1,000 each); there were also a smattering of patches by Quintessa Matranga, the subject of an upcoming show at the gallery, that said “Kill your boss” (200 pesos apiece).
“We’re really happy with the fair and we have some serious interest already,” Smith says. “It’s funny, we’re meeting a lot of New York people here for the first time, and we’re surrounded by our friends from the Internet, like Springsteen and Muscle Beach. It’s our first time in Mexico City and we love it here.”