A 1995 video by Corey Shaff sheds light on the last days of the Gallery (also known as 2B), a long-gone art space that formerly thrived in the East Village. Described as “post-apocalyptic,” 2B was located in a converted, open-air gas station situated at the corner of Avenue B and East Second Street. Between the years 1986 to 1995, it served as squatting grounds for a collection of artists, who can be seen in the video huddling next to open fires, and sitting among huge scraps of metal and wood. To some, these odd parts could be considered garbage — but not for these artists: at 2B, they served as repurposed pieces of furniture and the foundation for future sculptures.
Despite what the Gas Station’s outward appearance might have suggested, creativity was a constant force that pulsated within the space. When curator Ruben Garcia secured a lease for the lot, an imposing wall of junk metal was erected around it, which included an exhibition and performance space, as well as art studios and welding facilities, according to Gallery 98. For the majority of its existence, it was managed by artist Linus Coraggio.
Unfortunately, in the mid-1990s, as re-development in the East Village took place, the Gas Station was evicted to clear room for a rising condo building with a Duane Reade. New York Boros Properties, then the owner of the lot, had raised the monthly rent to $5,000 (from $1,100), and the studio had not paid rent for several months prior to eviction.
“This is one of the last venues for unusual art work, alternative parties and experimentation,” said Coraggio to The New York Times at the time.
While the Gas Station is no longer physically present, its legacy — particularly within the artistic community and East Villagers — is far from forgotten. Shaff’s video gives us an insider peek of what it was like during its hey day.
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