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Postmasters’ Magda Sawon On the Challenges of Running a Nomadic Art Gallery

Nearly a year ago, Magda Sawon shut the doors of Tribeca’s Postmasters Gallery after losing a dispute with her landlord over pandemic rent payments. The closure could have been devastating, but for Sawon, who co-founded the gallery in 1984 with her partner Tamas Banovich, it represented an opportunity to start fresh with a new type of art gallery model.

“After 38 years of essentially kind of pioneering various neighborhoods and being a part of those scenes, we decided it’s time to experiment,” Sawon told Observer. Postmasters has since gone nomadic, in a venture Sawon refers to as “Postermasters 5.0.”

Since the gallery lost its Tribeca space in August, it has rented buildings across the city in order to hold pop-up exhibitions. While the untraditional move has caused logistical challenges for the gallery and has been a tough change to embrace for some of its artists, Sawon claims the transition to the roving model has been an exciting change. “I think I would be bored to death not doing this.”

The gallery saturation in some Manhattan neighborhoods has always been an issue for Postmasters, according to Sawon, who grew up in Warsaw, Poland, where she earned a master’s degree in art history before moving to the U.S. in 1981. “You could put a tracker on us and it would point out the art neighborhoods of New York City, starting from the 80s.”

After opening Postmasters in Manhattan’s East Village, the contemporary art gallery moved to Soho in 1989 and then left the “gentrified, crowded neighborhood” nearly a decade later to set up shop in Chelsea, according to Sawon.

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