Skip to main content

Gracie Mansion Gallery records, 1972-1991

Gracie Mansion Gallery records, 1972-1991

Gracie Mansion Gallery

Collection Information

Size: 5.3 linear feet

Summary: The records of the New York City contemporary Gracie Mansion Gallery measure 5.3 linear feet and date from 1972-1991. Most of the records date from the gallery opening in 1982 and later. The bulk of the collection consists of printed material and exhibition loan files that document the activities of the gallery and the East Village art scene. Loan and consignment files are found for numerous artists including Michael Bidlo, Buster Cleveland, Claudia DeMonte, Rodney Alan Greenblat, Stephen Lack, Ed McGowin, David Sandlin, Hope Sandrow, David Wojnarowicz, Rhonda Zwillinger, among others. Also found are scattered business records.

Extensive printed material includes newspaper and magazine clippings, exhibition catalogs, and artists' files. Exhibition loan files are found for artists, exhibitions, and art fairs. These files contain consignment and loan agreement forms, correspondence, exhibition announcements, newspaper and magazine clippings, negatives and slides of artwork and exhibition installations, and a handful of color photographs of artwork or exhibition locales.

Scattered business records include correspondence, returned consignment forms from 1982-1987, donation records and materials related to art auctions, artist commissions, various lists, materials related to the Gracie Mansion Museum Store, notes, and a variety of other documents related to gallery operations.

Biographical/Historical Note

Gracie Mansion Gallery was an art gallery in the East Village, N.Y. Established 1982. Closed 1991. Operated by painter and dealer Gracie Mansion, also known as Joanne Mayhew Young. Gracie Mansion Gallery was one of the best known in the East Village during the art boom of the early 1980s. The gallery specialized in large group exhibitions and theme shows, as well as small affordable art. Initially located in Mansion's apartment, the gallery moved to 15 St. Mark's Place, then to 337 E. 10th St., and in 1987 to 532 Broadway where it remained until April 1991.


The Gracie Mansion Gallery records were donated in 1991 by Gracie Mansion, founder of the Gracie Mansion Gallery.

A Finding Aid to the Gracie Mansion Gallery Records,
, in the Archives of American Art
Historical Note
Painter and dealer Joanne Mayhew (b. circa 1947) changed her name to Gracie Mansion in 1982, and opened a gallery in the bathroom of her East Village apartment in March of that same year.
Gracie Mansion's first "Loo Division" exhibition was of her friend's photographs. The previous year, Gracie Mansion helped organize the "Limo Show", for which she rented a limousine and parked it on the corner of Spring and Broadway with fellow artists Buster Cleveland and Sur Rodney Sur. There, dressed as tourists, they served champagne and tried to sell their artwork to passersby.
This grassroots approach to the art market came to typify the emerging East Village art scene. Frustrated by the closed system of the SoHo and 57th Street galleries, in 1981-1982 several young artists and artists' groups began organizing shows and forming makeshift galleries of their own for fun and profit in the more affordable dilapidated East Village. The artwork they sold, predominately paintings, were also more affordable than those in SoHo.
The press quickly picked up on the East Village phenomenon and Mansion, who borrowed her name from the New York City mayor's official residence, had a charisma that made her and her gallery one of its favorite subjects. After three well-attended shows in her apartment, her landlord put a halt to her exhibitions and she moved her gallery to a larger space at 15 St. Mark's, then shortly after to 337 East Tenth Street between Avenues A and B. An integral part of the East Village art scene by the mid-80's, the Gracie Mansion Gallery, ran with the assistance of Sur Rodney Sur from 1983-1989, was one of the best known in the East Village during this boon.
Mansion specialized in large group exhibitions, theme shows that dramatically restyled the gallery, and the creative marketing of small affordable art. She represented a synthesis of painting and sculpture, art and environments, as opposed to single isolated objects. Among the artists she represented were Claudia DeMonte, Rodney Alan Greenblat, Ed McGowin , David Sandlin, Hope Sandrow, David Wojnarowicz, and Rhonda Zwillinger.
Eventually, Mansion relocated the gallery to SoHo and then Chelsea before closing in 2002 to focus on private dealing and the secondary market.
The collection is arranged as 3 series:
Series 1: Printed Material, 1972-1991 (Boxes 1-2, 6; 0.80 linear feet)
Series 2: Exhibition Loans, 1982-1991 (Boxes 2-4; 2.25 linear feet)
Series 3: Business Records, 1982-1991 (Box 5; 1 linear foot)
The Gracie Mansion Gallery records were donated in 1991 by Gracie Mansion, founder of the Gracie Mansion Gallery.
Processing Information
The records were processed by Jessica Ondusko in 2011.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Gracie Mansion Gallery records, 1972-1991. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

  • No downloads available