Foxy Production, Which Spurred Sterling Ruby and Others to Fame, to Close Gallery After 20 Years

Foxy Production, the veteran New York space that helped spur on the careers of venturesome artists such as Sterling Ruby and Sara Cwynar, will shut down its gallery program this October after 20 years in business.

The final exhibition there will be its current one, featuring photographs by Erin Calla Watson. After that, the gallery will be focused on “consultancy, curatorial, and production endeavors,” according to a statement released on Monday morning.

“The gallery, in five locations across New York City, enabled us to present many critically acclaimed exhibitions and to collaborate with important voices of our time,” the statement said. “We would very much like to thank all the artists we have worked with over the years. We would also like to send a special thank you to the collectors, curators, designers, framers, gallerists, photographers, printers, shippers, staff, and writers who made it all possible.”

The founders’ reasons for shuttering the gallery were not immediately apparent. The statement merely said that “it is now time for it to take on new forms.”

It is the second closely watched Downtown gallery to close in the past couple months, after JTT in Tribeca, which shuttered in August after 11 years in operation.

In July, Foxy Production’s landlord took the gallery to court for allegedly unpaid rent amounting to just under $200,000. The landlord accused the gallery of having consistently failed to pay its full monthly dues since February 2022.

A lawyer for Foxy Production, in a subsequent filing, contested this, saying that the gallery owed $8,950.82, not just under $200,000, as of late June. The lawyer said the gallery “continues to struggle financially as a direct result of the pandemic,” having lost collectors and funds, and that it had made repairs at its own expense. Amid all that, the landlord “mean spiritedly” started non-payment proceedings.

Founded in 2003 by Michael Gillespie and John Thomson, Foxy Production had exhibited a willingness to show conceptual, cutting-edge art—a rarity in a climate where what’s sellable tends to take precedence. The gallery made itself a haven for photo-based and moving-image work of the kind not regularly supported at commercial spaces with a focus on emerging artists.

Ruby is arguably the most successful Foxy Production alum, with his first New York solo show held there in 2004, long before he would become a market success and obtain representation with Gagosian. He would go on to have three more solo outings with Foxy Production.

Yet the gallery would also help raise the profile of many others. Cwynar, whose photography often deals with how images create desire, had three Foxy Production exhibitions, as did Petra Cortright, whose videos posted to YouTube had gained her fame before she showed her Photoshopped paintings with the gallery.

Sascha Braunig, whose paintings of abstracted bodies predated the current vogue for figurative painting, had her first-ever solo show at Foxy Production in 2011, four years before appearing in the New Museum Triennial, and Michael Wang had four exhibitions of his spare sculptures at the gallery.

Many others, from Bogosi Sekhukhuni to Michael Bell-Smith, from Srijon Chowdhury to Olga Chernysheva, had some of their first solos with Foxy Production.

Foxy Production is currently located in Chinatown, to which it moved in 2016 after years in West Chelsea. Prior to operating in that neighborhood, it was briefly based in Brooklyn.