Morristown’s art scene, rocked by this month’s closure of the Atrium Gallery, may lose another prime venue soon.
The 70 South Gallery, a photography showplace that exhibited the works of celebrated photographer Vivian Maier last year, needs a new business partner–and maybe a new location–or it will close when its lease expires at the end of February, said Ira L. Black, the gallery director.
“We’re starting 2019 with a very large clock ticking inside my head,” said Black, a seasoned international photographer.
Since opening on South Street in October 2014, the 70 South Gallery has featured scores of professional- and high school photographers at 21 exhibitions, while providing how-to sessions and high-end photo printing and framing services.
The venture was made possible by Ted Baldanzi, a photo hobbyist who sold his software company and renovated the former space of Sandrian Camera, a fixture in Morristown for 87 years.
Honoring that tradition, Baldanzi and his wife Beth kept members of the Sandrian family as gallery employees. Now, having fulfilled his dream of exalting photography, Ted Baldanzi is stepping down, Black said.
“This was a labor of love for Ted. He felt strongly that he wanted to do something for the community, supporting the arts and the students,” Black said.
“We’re just trying to figure out the next chapter, to continue his vision and thrive in the community.”
Baldanzi could not be reached for comment.
Black said he seeks an investor who shares his passion for inspiring the community with great photography, and for exposing patrons to a wide array of artists.
The gallery could evolve in new directions as well, he said, possibly adding more musical performances.
A handful of intimate concerts were presented at the gallery in collaboration with the Mayo Performing Arts Center’s Art in Community program last year.
Last year’s Vivian Maier show was the first New Jersey exhibition for the late photographer, whose recently discovered works have generated significant buzz in the art world.
Black expressed confidence that more shows of this caliber will follow.
Other themed presentations have included Photographing American History, and a Spirit Exhibition of portraits by Peace Corps volunteers. Several area schools used that show to augment their geography- and social sciences curricula, according to Black.
The gallery also has the gear and experience to create archival-quality reproductions, in all sizes, from prints, slides, negatives, digital files or fine artworks. They can be printed as photos, giclees, metals or acrylics, the director said.
Black added that the gallery was set to close this month, but the landlord extended the lease by a month. With a new partner, 70 South may be able to stay where it is, Black said.
Meanwhile, others are striving to revive a closed gallery a couple of blocks away.
Shortly after New Year’s Day, the Atrium Gallery’s final exhibition drew to a close after approximately three decades of art shows in that space, which fills four floors of the Morris County Administration and Records Building in Morristown.
The building houses some court rooms, and judiciary officials raised concerns about artworks compromising perceptions of the court system’s neutrality.
A local pastor hopes to reverse the decision and revive Art in the Atrium, a popular show that has promoted African American artists for 26 years.