Smack Mellon is a nonprofit arts organization located in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Smack Mellon's mission is to nurture and support emerging, under-recognized mid-career and women artists in the creation and exhibition of new work, by providing exhibition opportunities, studio workspace, and access to equipment and technical assistance for the realization of ambitious projects. We see ourselves as a vehicle whereby under-represented artists can create, explore and exhibit their creative ideas outside the concerns of the commercial art world, offering many artists the exposure and recognition they deserve.
Smack Mellon's Exhibition Program is at the center of the organization. Designed to advance public interest in the visual arts, the program focuses on providing opportunities for artists to create site-specific works that creatively respond to our space, and work that explores innovative uses of both new technologies and traditional materials. The gallery space provides for large, ambitious shows that allow our artists ample room to explore and present their work. Exhibiting artists also have unlimited access to Smack Mellon’s in-house media equipment. On average, Smack Mellon produces five exhibitions a year showcasing the work of more than 50 artists for 20,000 visitors. We also produce on average one exhibit per year by an emerging guest curator. The gallery, which is free to the public, is open five days a week.
The Artist Studio Program was launched in 2000 in response to the crisis in availability of affordable workspace for artists living and working in New York City. This program provides free studio space, access to a workshop for metal, wood and general fabrication, a common area equipped with the latest technology, and a fellowship to six artists for an eleven-month period. Each year, Smack Mellon convenes a panel of arts professionals to select the six Studio Artists from over 500 applicants. The panel also chooses 15 additional “Hot Picks” artists, whose work is featured on our website for one year, along with that of our studio artists. Smack Mellon hosts two Open Studios events annually, as well as sponsored visits from curators, critics and gallerists, which provide significant exposure and invaluable career building opportunities.
In 2007 we developed two new Arts Education Programs for local youth, in order to better prepare underserved young people for the professional world and to expose them to diverse artistic disciplines. Our Art Ready after-school program partners high school students with professional artists in NYC for a series of studio visits, field trips and a 4-month mentorship in order to help them make a more informed decision about pursuing a career in the arts. Our Summer Arts Intensive is a free, month long arts workshop for low-income middle-high school students. Every August, our gallery is transformed into a giant studio, in which participants work with professional teaching artists to create and exhibit artwork in diverse media, and take weekly field trips to different NYC arts venues.
Originally conceived as a multi-disciplinary exchange between visual artists and musicians, Smack Mellon was founded in 1995 by Andrea Reynosa and Kevin Vertrees. Since its founding, the organization has produced numerous exhibitions and presented the work of hundreds of artists in four different locations in Dumbo, Brooklyn.
In the early years, Andrea and Kevin presented exhibitions in their loft at 135 Plymouth Street. However, during Andrea's tenure as Executive Director from 1996 – 2000, Smack Mellon evolved to present exhibitions in dynamic spaces throughout the Dumbo neighborhood, thanks to generous space donations from the Walentas Family and Two Trees Management. Smack Mellon found homes in both a former rubber factory at 81 Washington Street and a former spice factory at 56 Water Street before its most recent move to the “Boiler Building” at 92 Plymouth Street.
David Baskin, James Hong and Tommy Bordonaro provided a wealth of creative and technical support that was instrumental in the early development of the organization. Kathleen Gilrain became the Executive Director in 2000 and launched the Artist Studio Program that year.
In October 2005, Smack Mellon moved into its current home at 92 Plymouth Street, across from the Brooklyn Bridge Park and next to the Manhattan Bridge in Dumbo. The 12,000 sq ft space, generously donated to us by Two Trees Management, is a converted boiler building that originally provided heat and power to the other buildings in the neighborhood. We completed a full renovation of this building, which had been sitting dormant for decades, turning a raw industrial space into a 5,000 sq ft exhibition space, seven artists’ studios, shared workspace including a workshop for wood and metal fabrication and a state-of-the-art digital production lab, and a kitchen/lounge area. Ms. Gilrain then initiated our two education programs in 2007-2008.
Since its inception, Smack Mellon has evolved into an organization that supports many artists through a highly respected exhibition program and artist studio program, and also benefits young people and the larger community through quality education programs. Accordingly, our organization's vision has been critically and artistically acclaimed.