Cristina Grajales and Leon Tovar have been dazzling collectors for years. Downtown, in New York’s SoHo, Grajales established a reputation for identifying contemporary artists and designers of surprising talent, including Sebastian Errazuriz and Christophe Côme, both known for producing designs with a fresh, artistic edge. On Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Tovar emerged as a leading voice in modern Latin American art, exhibiting works by the likes of Carlos Cruz-Diez, Julio Le Parc and Edgar Negret.
This fall, they are meeting in the middle—both geographically and conceptually—with a new shared space in the city’s NoMad neighborhood. The move represents a relocation for Grajales, and a second gallery for Tovar, who will maintain his Upper East Side gallery. “It’s different from the formula… we can create something together,” says Grajales. “It’s also a chance to share a space with someone I admire and respect.” Tovar echoes the sentiment and adds: “We work in completely different fields, but are related in aesthetics. We complement each other.”
Although the two galleries will continue their own curatorial programs on the same 6,000-square-foot floor at 152 West 25th Street, Grajales and Tovar are slicing the space into three sections to make room for the most innovative part of their arrangement, The Third Room, a collaborative space with no preset boundaries. There they will present works of mutual interest by artists and designers drawn from outside their regular rosters. “It’s multidisciplinary, and whatever we want to explore is possible,” says Grajales. “It’s a new platform where we can really start experimenting.”
“In this particular room, we just want to be ourselves,” adds Tovar. “We’ll offer completely new creations.”
The Third Room is enclosed by partitions designed by Jorge Lizarazo, the founder of Colombia-based Hechizoo Textiles, which makes innovative fabrics from materials such as aluminum, copper and nylon filament. For the opening on September 24, the gallerists are presenting Picasso, a sculptural work by Marisol Escobar completed in 1977. Depicting the legendary Spanish artist seated in a traditional chair at an advanced age, the piece evokes a blend of art and design that reflects the partners’ shared vision.
At the same time, Grajales will present new works by Stefan Bishop and Steven and William Ladd in her independent space, while Tovar will offer a show of Abstract sculpture by Negret.
When Escobar’s Picasso moves on from The Third Room, the partners aren’t yet sure what will follow—perhaps a special installation, or the imaginative creations of a furniture designer, or possibly cutting-edge jewelry or fashion. For now, that kind of uncertainty is precisely what they desire.