Why would a nice guy like Brook Dorsch get into a tough business like slinging art? Other gallerist friends asked him this question over the years. Turns out, his pleasant demeanor, great taste, sense of humor and solid day job helped him focus on showing quality and innovative work and not on trying to rake in the dough.
Dorsch Gallery From Coral Way to Wynwood: 20 Years of Big Art
Of the work exhibited at his gallery over the past two decades, Dorsch says he - now with the help of his curator wife Tyler - hosts “critical shows that you think about,” but not take completely seriously. He reassures, “I want them also to have some fun to them.”
The Dorsch Gallery originally opened in a space on Coral Way near Mykonos Greek Restaurant 20 years ago. “I walked into the apartment and it felt exactly like something I’d seen in Greenwich Village.” Dorsch remembers, “The space found me, and that’s how I found doing this.”
As a very young man, Dorsch visited the Coral Gables gallery walks and found that with a few exceptions - like Fredric Snitzer or Gary Nader showing Wilfredo Lam, it was boring. Most of the art looked like knock-offs of masters.
He says, “I saw there were younger artists making things that I thought were interesting,” and thus, he began exhibiting their work, made some friends, and, “that taught me about the art world.”
In order to expand after nine years, he bought the current gallery space in Wynwood, situated near the former Locust Projects and Rubell Collection. He snapped up the building the same week collector Marty Margulies bought nearby, together, they all became the roots that turned a warehouse district into an arts center.
Before moving out of the gallery and starting a family, Dorsch's neighborhood haunt once was Two Last Shoes, now the Electric Pickle, where there he heard and saw, “Latin music on the juke box and old ladies behind the bar.” No doubt, things in Wynwood have changed since then, and he’s impressed. “I can actually walk somewhere and get a cup of coffee.” Though art walk can be a madhouse, Dorsch appreciates the traffic.
Right now, Dorsch Gallery is hosting three solo shows. Cheryl Pope performed last Thursday as part of her work Matter of Fact. Dorsch thinks it was, “a good way to start off the season, almost a cathartic release for her. She’s amazing.” He first saw her work in Chicago and next he included her in his epic Bubble Raft show.
The other two artists showing are Audrey Hasen Russel with Gold Slaw and Raymond Saa with A Mile of String. Dorsch believes, “Raymond’s paintings have this string-like quality, some are them are sewn, and because of the sewing, that ties them in with Audrey(‘s work).” Russel pierced plates for her sculptures, and plates are the matter most prevalent in Pope’s show.
The Dorschs wanted to include Russel's art at the gallery, but couldn’t afford to ship her delicate and grand works. Somehow, things came together magically. Russel was granted a Fountainhead residency in town which enabled her to construct work at the space, even using elements from the gallery’s garbage pile to create sculptures.
Dorsch says of Pope and Russel, “Between the two of them, I’ve haven’t seen anybody work that hard for such a long time,” he continues, “Artists always work hard, but sometimes you don’t see it as much because they’re doing it in their studios.” Blood, sweat, and maybe some tears went into these wonderful tactile-tempting shows and all are worth braving art walk to experience.
Saunter over to the gallery this Sept.10. For those who fear the second Saturday walk, the shows are up through Oct. 1. The Dorsch Gallery (151 NW 24th Street, Miami) will be hosting an anniversary party with bands and fun the opening night for Basel shows, so keep your ears and eyes peeled. Gallery hours are from 12 p.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Contact 305.576.1278 or visit dorschgallery.com.