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What Is the a.I.R. Gallery?

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  • Written By: L.S. Ware
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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The A.I.R. (Artists in Residence) Gallery in the United States is a gallery run and owned by artists. It was established to serve as a way to display female artists and assist them in their careers. Additionally, the A.I.R. Gallery and its members maintain involvement in political issues and in the general promotion of women in the arts. As of 2011, the A.I.R. Gallery is located at 111 Front Street in Brooklyn, New York.

The first of its kind in the United States, the A.I.R. Gallery was founded in 1972 to deal with challenges and prejudices faced by female artists of the era. Susan Williams and Barbara Zucker, along with the other four founding members, selected 14 artists to become the first members. Membership is consistently maintained at 20 New York City artists at any one time. The A.I.R. Gallery is cooperative in nature, with members paying to belong and holding an ownership interest in the gallery. Artists must apply for membership and go through a rigorous peer interview and critique process to be inducted as one of the 20 members.

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Over the years, the A.I.R. Gallery has resided in a number of locations throughout the New York City area. Beginning with its opening on 16 September 1972, the gallery was located at 97 Wooster Street until 1981. It then moved to 63 Crosby Street for the next 13 years. For 1994 to 2002, the gallery moved to 40 Wooster Street and then to 511West 52nd Street until opening in the DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) district of Brooklyn in October of 2008.

Individual artist exhibitions are not the full extent of how the A.I.R. Gallery contributes to the feminine art world. Starting in 1976 with a show by Aline Dallier called Combative Acts, Profiles and Voices, the gallery has hosted and sponsored a series of international shows. A fellowship program was also initiated in 1993 to help give artists a hand up by providing them with a visible gallery space. The program facilitates young careers by promoting interaction and relationship building with other more experienced and established artists.

The archives of the A.I.R. Gallery going back to its inception are available to the public. These archives include material such as administrative data, curatorial decisions, and chronologies of exhibitions. Holiday and biennial exhibitions are done on an invitational basis. The A.I.R. Gallery and its members also hold lectures and other educational for the public to assist in furthering the cause of feminine empowerment, especially in the arts.

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