A Passionate, Upbeat Advocate: Ellen Rand, Artist and Gallerist, 1941-2016
Ellen Rand, the founder and director of Art 101, the Williamsburg gallery, died on August 19th at the age of 75 in her home behind the gallery. Ellen, a painter herself, opened Art 101 in 2004 in order to give others (over a hundred, through the years) a chance to show in a quiet, light-filled space. Her installations and groupings of artists were always thoughtful, and she was a passionate, upbeat advocate for the work, which was often by committed, mid-career artists who deserved to be better known. Though the gallery’s vibe was unpretentious and charming, its mission was humbly messianic, the polar opposite of a cold white cube or a Bushwick factory loft.
Ellen’s show of her own paintings at Figureworks last Spring included work she’d made in a kind of collaboration with her namesake grandmother, a successful portraitist at the turn of the previous century; in the presence of Ellen Emmet Rand’s stylish society paintings, Ellen’s subtle, ghostly abstractions seemed fleshier, thick with history both personal and political. She herself seemed the embodiment of a long line of New England feminism that was subversively proper – dauntless, never taking no for an answer, but always genuinely gracious.
A celebration of Ellen Rand’s life will be held in Williamsburg on October 15 at 2pm at the San Damiano Mission at 85 North 15th Street, followed by a reception and showing of her work at Art 101 on Grand Street. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Ellen Rand’s name to the BARC Animal Shelter, 253 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249, or the Brooklyn Latin School, 223 Graham Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11206.