Queer Thoughts, New York Gallery That Brought Fame for Offbeat Up-and-Comers, Closes

Queer Thoughts, the New York gallery that boosted the careers of artists like Diamond Stingily, David Rappeneau, and Puppies Puppies, has officially closed, marking an end to the 11-year run for the small, adventurous space.

Its final show, an Arthur Marie exhibition filled with matte-finished paintings of people with bulbous heads, closed in May and emblematized the gallery’s off-kilter sensibility. The gallery’s founders, the artists Miguel Bendaña and Sam Lipp, said Queer Thoughts’s closure had been planned to coincide with the end of the lease on its Tribeca space.

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“The evolution of the gallery far exceeded our dreams and expectations, and after 11 years we decided to close the gallery to pursue other projects, namely our individual artistic practices,” they wrote in an email to ARTnews. “It has been an honor to work with so many inspiring artists and present the first New York solo exhibitions by Diamond Stingily, David Rappeneau, Chelsea Culprit, Lucie Stahl, Mindy Rose Schwartz and Dean Sameshima, among others.”

Queer Thoughts is the third Downtown New York space to announce its closure in the past two months, after Tribeca’s JTT and Chinatown’s Foxy Production. Those galleries, like Queer Thoughts, had a reputation for exhibiting hard-to-define conceptual art, much of it by artists at the beginnings of their careers.

Bendaña and Lipp founded their gallery in 2012, opening it first in the closet of a Chicago apartment. In 2015, the gallery expanded, moving to a New York office space in Tribeca, a once-flourishing gallery district whose influence in the art scene had at the time waned. Today, there are once again many galleries in Tribeca, including blue-chip enterprises like Andrew Kreps, Bortolami, James Cohan, P.P.O.W, and Mendes Wood DM, as well as the David Zwirner–affiliated 52 Walker and 125 Newbury, which was launched by Pace Gallery founder Arne Glimcher.

The gallery’s first show was by Puppies Puppies, who now also works under the name Jade Kuriki-Olivo and is set to have a New Museum exhibition next month. She would go on to present her work many more times with Queer Thoughts. In 2015, she staged an entire show organized around the Gollum character from the Lord of the Rings series, and in 2019, she did an exhibition that dealt with anti-Asian racism and featured objects such as an urned filled with the ashes of an American flag, scanned pictures of Sherrie Levine’s appropriations of Walker Evans photographs, and decommissioned voting booths from Florida’s Sarasota County.

Several sculptures formed from braided hair on a wall with knockers attached. A longer one hangs on a separate wall and drapes onto the floor.
A Diamond Stingily show at Queer Thoughts. Courtesy Queer Thoughts

Future exhibitions would pick up the offbeat ethos Puppies Puppies helped create at the gallery, and like her, other artists would find fame after showing at Queer Thoughts.

Diamond Stingily’s first New York show, held at Queer Thoughts in 2016, consisted of sculptures crafted from Kanekalon hair; her work is now on view at the Museum of Modern Art. David Rappeneau’s first-ever solo show, staged at Queer Thoughts in 2014, when it was still in Chicago, featured some of the warped drawings of young people for which he is now well-known; today, he shows with Gladstone Gallery, a much more blue-chip operation.

Among the others to have shown with Queer Thoughts over the years are Paul P., Donna Huanca, Ser Serpas, Monica Majoli, Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings, Megan Marrin, Jason Benson, Catherine Mulligan, Chelsea Culprit, Dean Sameshima, and Mindy Rose Schwartz.

A sculpture of Gollum holding a fish.
Puppies Puppies’s 2015 Queer Thought show. Courtesy Queer Thoughts

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