For Hilary Gent and Hedge Gallery, it’s about meeting artists in the middle. Since its opening 10 years ago, Hedge Gallery’s mission has been simple: To create a space that didn’t feel stuffy, exclusive or hidden away but instead felt open and accessible for artists and viewers.
“The gallery began with a goal to meet artists halfway, especially artists that hadn’t had any representation, and curate exhibitions of their work and promote them in a way that felt accessible to everyone in the public,” says Gent, who runs the gallery inside the 78th Street Studios complex. “What I wanted is a space that was open-minded enough to allow artists to come in with some ideas that were ready to go as well as ideas that were still in the works.”
Gent has done exactly that, as Hedge Gallery currently features 18 artists — from oil painters to printmakers — many of whom have been with her since the beginning. Since opening in the late 2000s when 78th Street Studios had a little more than a dozen businesses, the gallery now features work from area artists such as Douglas Max Utter, Nikki Woods, Liz Maugans and others.
“I always wished there was a local gallery that offered advice and direction, even if they weren’t going to show my work,” says Gent.
While Hedge Gallery hosts six to eight exhibits a year, COVID-19 brought forth a unique challenge. Luckily enough, virtual artist showings and a behind-the-scenes series she called “Art At Home” were a perfect embodiment of her original mission.
“I was really trying to extend that thought that art is accessible to everyone,” she says. Hedge’s future looks vibrant. Gent has several shows planned for the summer and fall such as Nikki Woods’ Vivid Wild Things, an exhibit showing impressionistic views of women through oil paintings, running through September along with Mark Howard’s exhibit of recent works opening Sept. 17. Additionally, the gallery continues to offer artist talks where people can learn more about the pieces in the gallery.
“I feel like the public often doesn’t feel comfortable asking [about our work], but an artist enjoys that conversation,” Gent says. “Sometimes it helps them rethink their process a little bit.”