I love books. LOVE them. So imagine my delight when I learned that there was an all book-art gallery in Dumbo! I should have known, of course; Brooklyn has everything awesome, so why wouldn’t we have this?
Central Booking is the curatorial vision of Maddy Rosenberg, herself a book artists (among other media). She has filled the gallery’s permanent collection with work from nearly 200 artists, presenting a stunning variety of pieces, which still forms a beautifully unified whole. In addition to the book art, Central Booking has a second gallery with rotating exhibits on arts & sciences, a quarterly magazine, a zine library, events, and an online presence that includes slideshows and statements from all the artists whose work is featured in the gallery.
Update: As of 2013, Central Booking will be moving to a new storefront on the Lower East Side. Sad to lose such a terrific gallery in Brooklyn, but definitely visit them in the city. In the meantime, read my interview with Maddy below.
brooklyn spaces: How did you get involved with book art?
Maddy: I’ve been an artist all my life, a painter, printmaker, and book artist. About twenty years ago I was in a show, and I was asked by the director of the space to curate a show of my own, and I found that I really enjoyed it. To me it’s like making art with found objects, making installations with other people’s work. So I just got into doing curatorial projects more and more, and also I was doing artists’ books more and more. Since there weren’t a lot of book-art exhibitions at that time, I was often asked to do those. So I became known as a book-art curator, even though many of my exhibitions are all media. But for me book art is all-media, it’s very experimental, it can be anything, and made out of anything. That’s the exciting thing for me, the multi-disciplinary nature of it.
brooklyn spaces: Have you always wanted to open a gallery?
Maddy: No, I never had any interest in having a gallery, it just kind of happened. I needed to have my own space, and I wanted all the work to be for sale, so that’s called a gallery. But it’s really my curatorial project, my vision. It’s not a nonprofit, everything here is for sale, because I think that’s really important. The artists need to make a living, and they need to be placed into good collections. It’s very nice to have somebody buy something for their living room, but for the legacy of these artists, they need to be placed with museum collections, with very good personal collections, all of that. As an artist, I try to do for the artists what I want to be done for myself.
brooklyn spaces: How did you find this space?
Maddy: I had made a proposal and was looking around, and then my friend Don, who was down the hall at Safe-T-Gallery, decided that he didn’t want the rest of his lease, and he called me up. It was the beginning of June, and he said, “You can have my space for the rest of the lease if you can open in September.” I said, “Yeah, sure, no problem.” That was totally insane. I was curating for two spaces, so I had about 150 artists I was dealing with all at once. I wanted to have as many artists in the launch as possible, because I knew the launch was when I’d be able to get everyone here to see what it was. And it worked. At the launch there were just hundreds and hundreds of people, everyone was in a good mood, it was a very engaged crowd. It was just what I needed it to be.
brooklyn spaces: What are some particular projects or pieces that you really love?
Maddy: Well, I love everything in here, because it wouldn’t be here otherwise. I’m very selective. I really hate turning away artists who are really good, but there’s only so much I can do. My own fascination is sculptural works, or when somebody comes up with an idea that’s so different, I wish I had thought of it myself. Or anything that’s just beautifully done, exquisitely thought out. I believe in great ideas and great execution. Part of my program is finding artists who have careers, but not high-profile careers, and helping to make them more high profile. They deserve it, they’ve been doing fabulous work, they’re in museum collections, they get exhibitions all over the world, but they still have to scrape to make a living. That’s a shame for this country, a real shame.
brooklyn spaces: What are your goals for the future of the space?
Maddy: Just to continue. I was quite amazed at how much I really, really love doing this. I feel like I’ve come into my own, that I’m in a position where I can actually do what I want, and do things for others that I want to do, and work with people I would not have had access to if I didn’t have my own space. I really can’t see myself getting bored with this.