What happens when uptown meets downtown? Plenty, according to Upper East Sider Daniel Benedict and downtowner Stephen Werther. Their new Bleecker Street Arts Club is a dynamic art gallery with immersive programming in a social setting, cultivating a niche creative community of art lovers and collectors with its progressive initiatives.The collection features limited-edition art objects, unique furniture pieces and a relevant book selection. Daniel and Stephen clued us into their vision of the world and what they love about NYC.
Q: How did this uptown/downtown collaboration come together?
DB: Steven and I have known each other for a number of years, and we met through our mutual client, the W hotel group. In N.Y., I am inspired by a space because wonderful and unique spaces are rare to come by.
SW: When we were looking for a ground floor retail space, and we found a building in West village with rustic roots, Daniel and I had a similar vision to create an environment for art and home furnishings that was different than what is expected.
Q: Steven, how does this differ from your first stores, Portico?
SW: I wanted to create an environment where art and home furnishings could live together. I worked at Portico stores and I have worked in \[the\] fashion/retail business. Everyone has been asking me, “Why don’t you get back into home?” What was holding me back was a new idea. This a new idea that’s interesting.
Q: Who are you inspired by?
DB: The emerging artist circle. I’m the only one in the new art world without a skateboard. The new breed of artists are interesting to me because there is so much emphasis around established artists. The new artists are inspired to go the uncommercial route, which will probably be more complicated, but create more passion. It’s a dream come true to have the art club like the Gertrude Stein salon.
Q: Why the West Village?
DB:The building anchored us and is a landmark building from 1910. It’s where we both envisioned in our own heads.
Q: Steven, what's the business model?
SW: Multi props. I like business models where they are not relying on one stream of revenue. We have traditional art sales, and furniture sales of the Mooi line produced in a limited way. Our select endeavors are our third revenue stream.
Q: Is bigger better in artwork?
SW: No, a lot of galleries have spectacular and large works of art which are beautiful and inspiring, but are a challenge to own in your home. They have a limited audience.
Q: Any Advice?
DB: Buy emerging art, buy art from emerging artists.
SW: Buy what you like, or the pedigree of the artist. Buy art that you feel a connection with.