Next week, after just two and a half years in business, Kapp Kapp gallery will open a new space in Tribeca where artist Peter Doig once kept his New York studio. The new space, which measures 1,800 square feet, will occupy the fourth floor of 86 Walker Street and launch on January 15 with a solo show of photographer Stanley Stellar.
Kapp Kapp’s founders, twin brothers Sam Kapp and Daniel Kapp, said in an interview that they had been thinking about expanding for the past several months. “We’ve been in this exciting moment of growth,” Sam said. “We felt like it was the right time for us to double down on a bigger space.”
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The two found the new space through Jonathan Travis, a partner at Redwood Property Group, whom the gallerists identified as one of the leading real estate brokers for galleries looking to move to Tribeca. Their new location will be four times larger than either of the gallery’s previous spaces in Philadelphia and New York. “It’s been exciting couple of years in Tribeca—the energy is electric,” Daniel said. Over the past several years, numerous galleries have moved to the neighborhood, including James Cohan, P.P.O.W, Canada, and Nicodim Gallery.
The gallery opened its first space in 2019 in Philadelphia, where the brothers grew up and where their mother’s family has lived for generations. Six months later, in January 2020, they opened a small outpost in the Tribeca Arts Building in Lower Manhattan. “It was definitely an odd time to open in New York,” Sam said, noting that the gallery was only able to host one exhibition prior to lockdown. They continued to mount shows but only saw foot traffic begin to return in September of that year.
The initial incarnation of Kapp Kapp in New York was conceived as a weekend space. At the time, Daniel was working full-time for Marian Goodman Gallery on its communications team, and he wanted a space close by that he could program in his spare time. They had been drawn to Tribeca initially because of the programming of the small but influential gallery Queer Thoughts, which was across the street.
As part of its expansion in New York, Kapp Kapp will close its Philadelphia space and pivot to maintaining an office in the city. Calling the shift “bittersweet,” Daniel said, “We both decided are efforts were best focused for now on maintaining one space in this moment of growth.”
Stellar, who has lived in a Tribeca loft for decades, was the subject of the first solo show Kapp Kapp presented in Philadelphia and the first artist to officially join the gallery’s roster. This month at Kapp Kapp, Stellar will show a series of never-before-exhibited photographs of queer communities on the Christopher Street piers on Manhattan’s West Side in the 1970s, prior to the AIDS epidemic. “When it comes to opening our first show here, just a few minutes from where the piers once stood and the neighborhood Stanley has seen change around him, it just made sense,” Sam said. “This body of work is incredibly sensitive and special.”
The new location comes at a time when the gallery is also adding to the artists it represents, taking on two new ones in addition to the four it already shows: Philadelphia-based painter Gilbert Lewis and Velvet Other World, a duo composed of artists Joshua Allen and Katrina Pisetti based in Providence, Rhode Island. Part of the reason the gallery expanded, Daniel said, was to offer more space to these artists.
Sam added, “One of our primary goals in this new space is to create a welcoming environment—a place where you can have a conversation and see an incredible show.”