Famous critic cites local gallery

Jerry Saltz is a rarity. He’s an art critic who is known outside the art world.

Besides being the Senior Art Critic for New York Magazine, Saltz also was a judge on Bravo’s “Work of Art” reality series that ran from 2010 to 2011.

The show propelled the critic from art world star to celebrity, a transition encouraged by his dedication to social media. Saltz is an avid Facebook user, often engaging in discussions about art with his friends and fans on the site.

And now the world-famous critic, who’s been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism three times, has “liked” the efforts of an art gallery in Williamsport.

In endorsing Converge Gallery, 140 W. Fourth St., he also extended an invitation to local artists by saying, “Casey Gleghorn’s pop-up gallery should pop up more often around New York. So should other Williamsport galleries. Come on down. We need your energy, Pennsylvania artists and gallerists. We’ve got a lot of extra uniforms.”

Saltz’s comment was made in response to the gallery’s “pop-up” exhibition, “Never Enough” featuring city artist Jeremiah Johnson, which was on display at Kostabi World, 14 W. 24th St., New York, N.Y.

A pop-up art exhibition is when artists or galleries organize a temporary art show in an unusual or unexpected spot. Converge did its first pop-up in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn in August. The idea of Converge organizing a second pop-up exhibition in New York City has been floating around for a while.

“We have been toying with the notion of expanding into the New York art market for about a year now,” gallery co-owner John Yogodzinski said. “We travel up there frequently to visit artists, see the latest shows and even participated in our first art fair at ‘Fountain’ last March. It is just the next logical step in helping to promote our artists and bring new collectors for their work.”

The opportunity to take over another space in New York City came through the gallery’s connection to artists and musicians Mark and Paul Kostabi, who run Kostabi World. Mark rose to art fame in the ’80s and Paul was a founding member of White Zombie.

“We have been working with Paul and Mark Kostabi for about a year now and they have been great,” Yogodzinski said. “After our pop-up in Bushwick in August, Paul came up with the idea of having us do a pop-up show in the front lobby of Kostabi World.”

Converge chose to highlight Johnson’s artwork because his work is “representative of the caliber of work you might see at a Chelsea gallery,” Yogodzinski said.

“Not only is his work very good, but he has a large body of work, a variety of sizes and mediums and his paintings are very colorful,” gallery co-owner Casey Gleghorn added. “His work also touches on art history in many ways.”

Johnson said that he was really excited for the show, but was able to stay calm about it until the opening reception was flooded by people.

“(It) was great,” he said. “There were lots of people there from 5:30 right up until 9:30 p.m. So many that I got trapped in the corner sometimes. And I only heard positive feedback from everyone. They liked the work a lot.”

Johnson also was very thankful that Saltz stopped by to see his art.

“That was really nice,” he said. “I heard that he liked the work and he especially appreciated that a small gallery in a town in Central Pennsylvania was taking such bold risks to make New York pay attention to them.”

Gleghorn couldn’t believe that an art critic as famous as Saltz paid their show a visit.

“So here is a writer and art critic who I follow daily on the Internet visiting our exhibition, looking at Jeremiah’s work and enjoying himself,” he said. “The reason I curated a solo show instead of a group show is because I read somewhere that Jerry did not like group shows … one of our goals in coming to Chelsea was to have Jerry Saltz, the world’s biggest art critic, come visit our exhibition. So, this was a big deal for all of us.”

Yogodzinski viewed Saltz’s visit as a validation of the gallery’s efforts.

“I think it helps to solidify what we are doing here at Converge Gallery,” he said. “We may come from Williamsport, but that doesn’t mean that the art we show and artists we represent can’t fit in well with the New York art scene.”