By Lisa Kava
On Amsterdam Ave at 82nd Street, tucked in between the Richard Corman Photography Gallery and the Sofia Storage Center, sits a unique art gallery, founded by an Upper West Side mother-and-son duo.
Wild Geese Gallery hosts art shows, but unlike a typical gallery, it is also a space where local artists are welcome to drop in and work alongside one another. Neighborhood residents may watch these artists at work.
Wild Geese Gallery is the brainchild of Pearce Green, 23, and his mom, Elizabeth (Liz) Curtis. Green is an artist who works in a variety of mediums, and a college student studying creative writing. Curtis is a seven-time U.S. Professional Latin-American Ballroom Dance Champion and World Finalist.
Walking by the gallery, one might be drawn to the large-scale paintings with vibrant cheerful colors. West Side Rag had the opportunity to visit and chat with Green inside the gallery surrounded by his work. “It feels right to me to create really bright art. When I started drawing, I always reached for bright Crayola markers.”
Green found himself painting more than ever when Covid hit. “I started painting obsessively in my apartment during Covid, and the walls were closing in,” he said. “I was also walking around seeing many empty storefronts.”
Liz Curtis happened to be visiting her friend Richard Corman in his gallery after dropping off some boxes at the Sofia Storage Center located in the same building. “We both agreed that the empty space next door looked perfect for an art studio,” Curtis said. She telephoned Len Sofia, the landlord, to discuss. “Len loved the idea of keeping the block alive with art,” she recalled. A lease was signed, and in November 2020 the empty space became “Pearce Green Art.”
From the beginning, Green hoped to bring artists together in an informal setting. “I wanted to create a place for artists who usually wouldn’t have access to a gallery setting to be able to show their work. I wanted to create a collaborative space,” Green said. He also wanted to foster an atmosphere where people in the neighborhood could watch artists at work. Word spread quickly, artists were drawn to the space, and soon the gallery was bustling with life. Artists would often work late into the night, Green said.
“Young artists would walk by, see Pearce splattered with paint, throwing clay on a ceramics wheel and the next thing you know they would be painting next to him on the floor,” Curtis said. “The energy in the space reminded me of when I was a young dancer sweating with my peers.”
In February 2022, Green and Curtis changed the name of the gallery to “Wild Geese Gallery.” “The original name, “Pearce Green Art,” was a placeholder,” Green said. “The gallery was never about me alone. [The new name] was inspired by Mary Oliver’s poem and my Irish family history, when immigrants like my grandparents were nicknamed ‘wild geese,’” Curtis explained.
Works by “artists in residence,” Max Geller and Sophie Goodwin, are currently on view through March 25th at Wild Geese Gallery along with Green’s paintings. Geller and Goodwin worked inside the gallery during the winter months, Geller in small-scale sculptures and Goodwin in oil painting.
The next show, beginning on March 31st and going through April 24th, will bring Cuban artist, Kadir Lopez Nieves, known for his neon signs, to New York. Nieves, who is based in Havana, is currently at work on the pieces for this exhibit, called “Island to Island.” The show will represent “islands from all over the world that are connected by heritage or friendship,” Curtis said.
There will be an opening night gathering to celebrate Nieves on March 31st from 7:30-10PM. Those interested in attending can RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional exhibits are planned at Wild Geese Gallery this spring, including one showing the work of Upper West Side photographer Henry Michaelis, beginning in May.
Wild Geese Gallery is open to the public seven days a week from 12 PM-7 PM. Hours may vary when exhibits are being installed. For more information and updates, follow Wild Geese Gallery on Instagram at @wildgeese.gallery or at www.wildgeesegallery.com. Note: the website is still in formation. Wild Geese Gallery can also be reached at 917-371-2355.