While Washington, D.C., teems with major art museums, it has comparatively few commercial galleries. It’s “not that there aren’t interesting things happening outside the major museums—there definitely are—but the gallery-to-museum ratio has to be one of the smallest in the country,” the art dealer Todd von Ammon told me yesterday in an email. “Museums and galleries go together: one without the other is like apple pie without ice cream.”
And so von Ammon, who spent the last seven years in New York at Team Gallery, has decamped for the nation’s capital, where on April 6 he will open a project space, Von Ammon Co., with a solo outing by the trailblazing New York–based artist Tabor Robak.
The new enterprise is located in a “gorgeous old warehouse space right on the C&O Canal in Georgetown,” von Ammon said. It measures a robust 3,500 square feet, and it is located at 3330 Cady’s Alley. “We decided to forgo renovation for the first exhibition, so many of the space’s eccentricities like antique exposed brick and old wooden columns will be visible,” he said, comparing it to storefronts in Manhattan neighborhoods like SoHo and the Lower East Side.
In New York, over the past year, von Ammon has presented one-person shows by Benjamin Bertocci and Kristin Reger in his Lower Manhattan apartment, and he’s curated group exhibitions both in the city and internationally. (One highlight was a 2016 affair at Team in New York that featured the formidable quartet of Jessi Reaves, Catharine Czudej, Anicka Yi, and Max Hooper Schneider.)
For now, the D.C. dealer said he’s moving slowly to work out a program for the new space. “I haven’t planned very far ahead,” he said. “It’s my belief that openings of galleries often garner too much fanfare and the closings of galleries garner too much shame. It’s a very unforgiving business model, and I think one that could be much more flexible than it currently appears.”
Von Ammon did tease a bit of what will be on offer in the first show, though. While Robak is best known for his hypnotizing, intricate computer-generated videos, his new work will be in a more expanded vein. “Tabor will be putting an emphasis on notions of ‘physical computing’ in his work—the act of assembling a digital rendering with contingent physical and tangible parts,” the dealer said. “Much of the ‘code’ will occupy sculptural space in the form of LED signage, transparent monitors, fluorescent tubes and laser-cut metal and plastic. Robak has always enjoyed a robust following of collectors, curators and writers, and I think this show will be an exciting surprise to even his most die-hard fans.”
That sounds like enough to lure fans from far and wide to D.C., but von Ammon also noted, “As an added incentive, the show will coincide with ‘peak bloom’ of the cherry blossoms.”