The gallery scene in Williamsburg will get less colorful in a few weeks as, after eight years, Jack the Pelican Presents is closing its doors. When asked by artcritical about this decision, owner and former art critic Don Carroll gave the expected answer: economic downturn, drop in sales, and increased rent. In addition, due to the enormous cost of renting a booth, the gallery was not able to attend many of the popular art fairs, where in past years they sold well.
Jack the Pelican Presents has been at its Driggs Street location in Williamsburg since 2002. Its enigmatic name derives from an inebriated misprision of Jackson Pollock. The current and last exhibition is especially poignant for Carroll. Titled “The Sacred Comic Book,” it consists of a hand-drawn, unbound, illustrated story of an anonymous frustrated artist, his seedy existence, his community and his struggles in New York starting in 1921 and spanning 30 years. It’s central theme, “Just Keep Pecking Away,” is as close to a mission statement of the gallery as anything.
Some highlights over the years include the wildly popular David Shapiro show in 2003, where the artist filled the gallery with a bodega-sized collection of garbage, neatly organized on commercial shelves. This exhibition received critical acclaim and helped establish the gallery’s reputation. Another of Carroll’s favorite shows was the Icelandic Love Corporation, in 2004. Mixing video, performance, sculpture, and photography, this all-girl quartet used fanciful narratives combined with symbolic associations of materials of their Icelandic homeland to create narrative meaning.
With so much support from friends and artists, Carroll isn’t ready to quit the gallery game yet. He’ll be looking for a smaller space, probably in Manhattan. But as he hasn’t had a weekend off in 8 years, he might take his time about it.
“The Sacred Comic Book” will be up for a few more weeks, the actual date of closing is unknown at this time, so calling ahead is recommended. The gallery is located at 487 Driggs Street (between 9th and 10th) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and is open Friday through Monday 12-6. For more information, call 718 782 0183.print