AFA Gallery will close its doors in March in response to industry trends, and owner Heidi Leigh’s decision to pursue projects that promote art and culture at Chateau Belcastel, her medieval castle in France.
The story begins with a gallery called Animazing, located on West Broadway, next door to the first Mary Boone Gallery, and specializing in conceptual and traditional animation art. After a decade as a leader in the industry, the emergence of CGI (computer-generated imagery), rendered animation cels a lost art form, and the gallery evolved into to exhibit cartoon expressionism and illustration art by pop icons, like Charles Schulz and Dr Seuss, along with original illustration art by American contemporary masters.
In 2012, its SoHo branch re-branded as AFA Gallery (Animazing Fine Art). A more sophisticated gallery emerged, one that focused on living contemporary surrealists whose work was edgy and masterful. After owning and operating a dozen galleries in the US, Leigh feels it is a good time for a new chapter.
“It is inevitable that so many small and mid-size galleries have been closing their doors in response to major trends in the industry. A number of factors have redefined the industry over the last decade; an influx of auction houses with a global reach via the internet compete with cyber-galleries that represent private collectors consigning an older generation’s unwanted artwork. This online shopping trend has gobbled up a share of the market, but the lion’s share is spent at the pop-up art fairs that are the hipster place to be. Today’s and tomorrow’s rock stars of the art world are, and it is a scene like no other. It proves the necessity for a venue that shows original work, and draws museum curators, which is a beautiful trend that museums have been supporting emerging artists as of late. Galleries from around the world come out of the woodwork to gain exposure, and then retreat to off-beat “by-appointment” locations after spending an absurd amount of money on a 10’ booth at one of the better fairs. In the age of millennials, art collections tend to be a free experience “acquired” on phones, where this generation lives. It will be interesting to see how things unfold to somehow support the creators of art, which MUST inevitably happen. When high rents drove galleries up into Chelsea and Brooklyn, the internet leveled the playing field. When artists started competing for the gallery’s collectors on Instagram-- a gallerist’s worst nightmare. Perhaps the old-fashioned gallery model like mine will soon be history, but I have built many artistic careers and had a great experience doing it.”
Leigh is grateful for 35 years of business and thankful for loyal clients and friends as well as the talented artists with whom she felt honored to work. Leigh looks ahead to continuing to work with artists as she focuses her efforts on Chateau Belcastel in France.
*** Over 35 years in business and as part of our commitment to supporting our artists, AFA has acquired a significant inventory of artwork owned by the gallery. As part of our closing process, we will be offering our clients these works at a significant discount. Sale starts now through mid March.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.