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Art pains! Gallery sped gentification, then fell victim • Brooklyn Paper

Art pains! Gallery sped gentification, then fell victim

Williamsburg’s Cinders Gallery will be forced to close at the end of the year after its owner raised its rent by $1,000 per month.
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

It’s a story as old as the Bible — or at least the 1980s.

An art gallery that helped gentrify Havemeyer Street has now found itself in the unenviable position of being priced out of the new Williamsburg it helped create.

Cinders Gallery, a six-year-old art space on the corner of Hope Street, will close and look for a new home after its landlord hiked the ground floor’s rent by an additional $1,000 per month, effective on New Year’s Day.

“Ahhh, so this is gentrification come full-circle, eh?” Cinders co-owner Kellie Bowman wrote in an e-mail to the gallery’s fans. “We never thought we were immune but after so many years we had gotten really comfortable here so it was a bit of a shock when our landlord delivered us this ultimatum.”

The gallery has featured formally curated yet innovative group shows from painters, drawers, and illustrators, and many of whom are from Brooklyn.

The shows varied widely, though intricate works on paper remained its hallmark and the inviting and accessible atmosphere made the gallery a neighborhood favorite, brightening up a quiet tree-lined block.

“We treat it like a professional gallery,” said Bowman. “It’s our job. It’s our passion. It’s not a side project — it’s what we do.”

As the gallery grew in popularity, the neighborhood around it sprang to new life. More than a dozen restaurants and bars have moved into the four-block radius around the gallery, inspiring landlords to raise prices for existing available commercial real estate.

Bowman declined to reveal how much she was being charged for rent, but a neighborhood broker said that a similarly sized space down the street was renting for $2,500 a month. A larger space across the street from Cinders, nearly three times its size, is on the market for $5,300 a month.

“I have been getting nothing but restaurants there,” said Ray Martin, a commercial real estate broker. “Smaller storefronts, I stay away — the owners are psychotic.”

Bowman and her co-owner, Sto, do not have a contingency plan when the new rent is due, but they have applied for nonprofit status and are exploring moving to a permanent space in Williamsburg or Greenpoint or setting up temporary exhibitions in warehouses in North Brooklyn.

But they will miss Havemeyer Street.

“It’s one of the prettiest streets in Brooklyn,” said Bowman. “The community has been really supportive, even when our openings spill onto the street and become block parties.”

Cinders Gallery [103 Havemeyer St. at Hope Street in Williamsburg, (718) 388-2311], Oct. 15, 7–10 pm.

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