The End of an Era: Thank You, OK Harris

Closing its doors at the end of the day on April 19

"OK Harris was the first gallery on West Broadway and is virtually the last"

In July 2012 I wrote a post saying goodbye and thank you to the legendary Ivan Karp, who founded and ran OK Harris Works of Art in SoHo. It was impossible to imagine that he would one day be gone, but once the reality set in, the post poured out.

Ivan in the doorway of his gallery in 1995
Photo by Algis Kemezys, courtesy of the gallery

Now it's time to say goodbye to the legendary gallery he founded. In April it will close its doors. In an email sent out yesterday, the family and longtime staff of the gallery said this:

"After 45 years, OK Harris will be closing.  We will proudly exhibit the works of the exceptional artists on our schedule through April 19th.  This e-mail is to thank you and to congratulate our artists, collectors, dealers, friends, on 45 years of successful collaboration.  Ivan C. Karp, the gallery’s progenitor and prime mover, its heart and soul, was the proud steward and loving parent of this institution.  OK Harris has been an accomplishment worthy of acclaim and celebration and has historical resonance.

"Every one of us contributed to Ivan’s vision and participated in the life and character of OK Harris.  The gallery hasn’t merely been a place to showcase the talents of artists or an establishment for the sale of works of art to an admiring public, it has been an institution where people of uncommon vision and love of creative enterprise could come together and be uplifted by the variety and resounding quality of Ivan’s generous vision.

"All things pass, and passages are bittersweet.  There is joy in having participated in a thing worth doing and in the knowledge that it was done well, and melancholy in its ending.  OK Harris was the first gallery on West Broadway and is virtually the last.  Its opening founded SoHo and achieved its promise as Ivan’s proving grounds.  Ivan deliberated the eventual closing of the gallery when he could no longer be its hub.  He left us with clear guidelines for its duration, to which we adhere in closing, recognizing Ivan's and our collaboration with each of you during the last 45 grand years.

"The gallery’s archives will be donated to the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian where Ivan’s personal papers already reside. "

The opening of five exhibitions on Saturday, January 25, is likely to be bittersweet, but let's not focus on the bitter. My friend Laura Moriarty will show her splendid sculptural paintings there for the first time. Go see the show, say Hi to Laura, and tell the family and staff--Christine Adapon, Amy Fishman, Ethan Karp, Marilyn Karp, Suzanne Kreps, Ana Menezes and Rick Witter--how much the gallery has meant to you over the years. 

Laura Moriarty, Leaning Wall, 2013, pigmented beeswax, 15 x 10 x 2.5 inches


Sue Marrazzo Fine Art said...

I like the art piece!!

Laura said...

Thank you so much, Joanne. OK Harris leaves a beautiful legacy in its wake. I am as saddened by the closing of this wonderful gallery as I am excited to be included in their program.

CMC said...

I am so sad about this. I read so many articles Ivan Karp wrote over the years. You could almost think you knew him in person...or you wanted to know him. He presented wonderful work in his gallery but at the same time seemed very open to talking with artists who were still finding their way. This is a coveted combination.
This is all said from the point of view of an artist living in rural Texas and never having the opportunity to visit the gallery. I am upset that I never made that opportunity happen.

Seth said...

I have visited this gallery many times over the years and had always loved their selection of artists. Hard to believe they will no longer be...but I do celebrate the fact that they remained in Soho for so long all the other galleries left!

Kesha Bruce said...

OK Harris was one of the very first galleries I ever visited in NYC. It really does feel like the end of an era. I'm truly sad I won't get to visit for one last time.