Welcome to the ‘Hood: Jan Larsen Art

jla-1-by-tribeca-citizencourtesy-jan-larsen-art-1courtesy-jan-larsen-art-2artwork-courtesy-jan-larsen-artJan Larsen, who already owned a gallery and fashion boutique in DUMBO, where he lives, and a gallery in Chinatown, was looking to open more galleries but not necessarily in Tribeca. One of Jan Larsen Art‘s artists, however, is a cousin of the owner of 321 Greenwich Street, who wanted a gallery on the ground floor after Z’ Baby closed. So Larsen decided to move his Chinatown outpost here. “That was about a month and a half ago,” he says, as we walk over to RadioShack because he needs a new cordless phone.

Born in Cincinnati, Larsen grew up in Brookline,
Mass. He majored in history
at Columbia and Harvard, then went to Oxford for an M.Phil. in management studies; he was working in finance when 9/11 happened. Like many others, he opted to change course shortly thereafter. “I wanted to do something more meaningful,” he says. “It was a quality of life issue. I grew up around art, and this was a way of creating ‘home’ for me, a way of cultivating culture, making more beautiful spaces for people.”

The new gallery is long and narrow, with one wall mainly exposed brick and a skylight at the back. Larsen plans monthly exhibits: The first one, which opened Sept. 10, was a group show of four artists, including the owners’ cousin; the next show, “CityScapes,” opens Thursday, Oct. 1—there will be a party that night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., to which the public is invited—and will feature Michael McNamara and Scott Geyer. (The image above is composed of, from left, McNamara’s Midtown Morning and Geyer’s White Post and Chain.)

Larsen says he’ll focus on painting and photography. When I ask if there is a philosophy or aesthetic that defines JLA artists, he says, “The art is urbane and young. A little edgy. And it’s relevant to the urban environment we call home—it comes out of living in the city.” It strikes me as very livable, in that it’s not art for its own sake—you can imagine it hanging in your own home (which makes sense, given that the gallery is in a highly residential area, where a lot of people have a lot of walls). He agrees: “It’s not radical art.” Moreover, it’s not insanely expensive—in the current show, the large works are $17,000, but most are in the $4,000–$5,000 range, and the small works are $350 to $1,200. The photographs are $1,600.

Larsen and the building’s owner also envision the gallery as a function space, hoping to rent it for commercial shoots, corporate events, parties, and so on. “It’s in the interest of the artists and the gallery to have more people coming through,” Larsen points out. His ambitions don’t end there: Plans are underway for a JLA gallery in the Flatiron District, and he has spaces picked out in Los Angeles and London.

Jan Larsen Art is at 321A Greenwich Street, bet. Duane and Reade; its website is janlarsenart.com. The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


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