More than 200 artists and police officers –


During my time posted on the sidewalk outside last night’s opening of ‘The Patriot’, a group show of over 200 artists, 100% open-submission bonkers at O’Flaherty’s Gallery in the Lower East Side, I heard some variations on the same chorus: If the police come that fast, it must be a good party.

It wasn’t just one or two cops either. At its peak, there were several squad cars and at least five police lined up outside the space, which drew a line before opening and reached capacity almost instantly. Lower East Side gallery openings aren’t usually accompanied by a line snaking around the block and a gang of cops. But O’Flaherty’s, less than a year old and run by rising artist Jamian Juliano-Villani with his friends, painter Billy Grant and musician Ruby Zarsky, is not typical.

It’s something else, something a bit rare: it’s fun. And completely crazy.

When I arrived at 8am, the line was already full, with an almost comical number of people fighting to get through the doors. Outside the gallery, a contortionist, flanked by neon pink alien sculptures, wrapped her leg behind her head as progressive house music blared from a nearby boombox.. I spotted Grant near the entrance, and he led me through the crowd.

Entering the dark gallery, lit like a haunted house by attendees’ flashlights, I was bombarded by the first of at least seven art rooms, five of which were hung like a living room with a dizzying array of work from what looked like contemporary art entities to the kind of artist who could, say, submit a fairly simple portrait of Tom Petty. I couldn’t get my hands on a checklist, so who really knows.


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