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If there was one singular image to sum up Savannah right now, it’d be The 2201: a non-traditional, multi-use space borne out of a lack of affordable gallery spaces.
Artist Brittany Reidy rents the unit on Price Street and lives in one half. The other half, she uses as a studio that she opens up to artists on First Fridays.
Reidy came up with the idea after talking to another artist friend, Kamryn Shawron, about the difficulty of finding a gallery space.
Reidy’s been here since 2012, and in that time, she’s seen plenty of galleries shut their doors. In that same time, she’s seen prices for gallery rentals soar.
“I love that there are galleries who allow that opportunity [to show work] to people, but sometimes I do think that price point isn’t accessible to everyone,” says Reidy. “There are some talented people who may not be students with their parents helping them out, or artists in general who are past college, and it’s just not accessible. [The cost of] living here is definitely going up as well.”
With The 2201, Reidy is killing several birds with one proverbial stone and offering a space to let the artist do, essentially, whatever they want.
“It’s very much a DIY gallery,” says Reidy. “It’s like, ‘Well, what do you want to show?’”
The public side of The 2201 features one white wall, one wall of exposed brick, one huge bay window, and one wall of raw wood, which Reidy says is the only non-negotiable item in the space.
“I’d like to keep this wall as is,” she says. “Hanging stuff from the ceiling? Go for it. It is very DIY, but that keeps the cost low because I don’t have to worry about that too much. I’ll help you in the install if you need it.”
Reidy’s laissez faire approach to gallery ownership was tested out on Oct. 4 with Jack Reder’s solo show, which came together after a scheduling conflict.
“I was like, ‘Yo, Jack, people are taking off work to come to this thing; you want to do a show?’” remembers Reidy. “He was very enthusiastic, so it came together.”
Reder used the space to show illustration work on a variety of media, from digital to textile to old-fashioned sketchbooks.
“He’s moved towards doing illustration on textile,” says Reidy. “It’s a big variety but very well-rounded; you still see the style throughout.”
The first show experience was helpful for Reidy, who says she was spackling the wall hours before the opening.
“I learned a lot this time around, like basic things,” she shares. “Common knowledge in a gallery, I definitely did not have.”
For that show, Reidy didn’t curate the work, instead letting Reder bring the work he wanted to show. That’s how The 2201 will operate in the future as well: allowing the artist to self-curate.
“I think if I was to show somewhere, why would I want someone to stifle what I creatively see in the space?” Reidy asks. “There are limitations everywhere, but I feel as though I wouldn’t have thought of his way of hanging. That’s what I want to show; I want the artist to reflect their work in all elements and how they show, how they hang. That’s what I want to provide.”
Going forward, Reidy will schedule shows based on who’s interested in the creative vision of the space and, after that, on what kind of artwork she likes.
“I don’t really have serious criteria; it’s very open,” she says. “I’d like to limit it to one or two artists at a time. I don’t want a full curated show with one piece here, one piece there, because that defeats the purpose of them using the space to express themselves.”
Reidy’s interested in all forms of art and is open to turning The 2201 into a music venue as well, but for now, she’s keeping it a visual arts space.
She’s also limiting it to First Friday openings only to take advantage of the relatively close proximity to other galleries within walking distance.
“First Friday is really prime time. That’s when everyone is out with the goal of looking at art,” she explains. “There are a lot of other places where can people can go if it’s not First Friday. There are some amazing museums and galleries that do have open hours, so I don’t feel like it’d be taking away from this space.”
Through the rest of the month, Reidy can use the space as her own personal studio, which she’s glad to finally be able to do.
Reidy, a self-proclaimed workaholic, had to take a break from creating art after graduating from SCAD.
“College burnt me out majorly,” she admits. “I’d just be working my ass off. I was very sick at the end of it, and then you hit this wall. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough in my day, and that affected my mental state, so I took a two-year break from making anything. This apartment was an investment in my art as well as a place to live.”
Now, Reidy is overjoyed to be making work again. A painter and fiber artist, she’s been putting as much on the canvas as possible and working on it as much as she can between two jobs.
“People are always like, ‘Are you doing anything? Are you making anything?’ Well, now I am!” she says. “I can respond ‘yes’ now, which is great.”