Suzanne Geiss Goes Her Own Way

Published March 6, 2012

When visitors come to the inaugural show at Suzanne Geiss’s namesake gallery at 76 Grand Street tomorrow night, they might feel the aura of the space’s former proprietor, Jeffrey Deitch. After all, Geiss was the director of Deitch Projects from 1997 until 2010, when the gallery closed, and parts of the legacy remain.

Reopening in Deitch’s old space, and showing some of his former artists, does she feel compelled to be different? “I thought if I waited two years, people would stop asking that question!” Geiss says with a laugh. “I don’t feel a pressure to run in the opposite direction from Deitch Projects. I’m going to do what’s natural for me—it’s the only thing I can do.”

Geiss had long considered opening her own space, and the departure of Deitch from New York provided the natural moment. “With the gallery closing I had the luxury of taking some time without the rigor of an exhibition schedule to start mapping out what I would want to,” says Geiss. “It was nice to be out in the world a bit.” During that time, she spent time with several artists with whom she had worked closely at Deitch, like Kristin Baker, who will show new paintings in May.

She knew she wanted to be in SoHo. “I feel a commitment to this area,” she says. “When I started actively looking, I thought, I should take a really serious look at this building. I’ve always loved the space. It has such great energy.”

Geiss is slowly building a roster and is excited about introducing new artists—”that’s something that would not have been possible before,” she says—and wants to be “a facilitator for the artist’s most ambitious projects, whether that be inside or outside the gallery model.” Geiss has a full exhibition schedule through next spring, and intends to balance her program with artists she represents with occasional historical shows.

The gallery launches with a presentation of the work of Rammellzee, the street artist who died in 2010. “These are works that haven’t been seen in 25 years,” she says of his Letter Racers, 52 found-object sculptures that each represent a letter of the alphabet. “They have a really strong presence. He was somebody who was making art because he absolutely had to. That level of intensity is something that connects all the artists I will show.”