Walking New York: The Chelsea Art Galleries

“Walking New York” is my post-series on sights that you can enjoy in New York for cheap of free, just by walking. There is so much to see and do in this massive and culturally inspiring city. If you have a suggestion for a place for me to walk, feel free to let me know through my contact page.

I enjoy art, but I have to admit, I have a pretty short attention span. If I am headed to an art gallery, I can only bear an hour of looking, gazing, and appreciating, tops. My knees get sore and I just want to find a place to sit.

Recently, I found out about the Chelsea Art Galleries. These are a few blocks in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan that allow you to come and view artwork, and hopefully make a purchase (though the prices are WELL out of my price range). I decided to give them a whirl. Hey, they’re free, so I can stop my adventure at any time if my knees and short attention span start complaining without feeling guilty!

The highest concentration of galleries are 19th St – 28th St, between 10th Ave and 11th Ave
The highest concentration of galleries are 19th St – 28th St, between 10th Ave and 11th Ave

I went with  “NYBudget girlfriend” and one of her friends from out of town. After the first 2 stops, I knew this way of seeing art was PERFECT for me. I spent no more than 10 minutes in one gallery and then I could head out, enjoy a short walk in the New York City streets and duck into a COMPLETELY different gallery. We saw creative glass bowls, modern art, beautiful photo-realistic paintings, and one installment that featured live pigeons (this took us off-guard. We assumed a sound system was playing pigeon noises until we looked inside the “coop”).

We also enjoyed looking at the prices. Some galleries had prices listed next to the art. These pieces went for a couple thousand dollars (I instantly knew that I would have no problem resisting any temptation to purchase anything). As the galleries got more expensive, the prices were harder to find. Some prices were listed in a book that was publicly available. For some prices, you had to ask the front desk. The painting we all agreed was our favorite was listed at $75,000 – wow!

Walking Up to the Galleries
Walking Up to the Galleries
This one was listed as $75k! But the perfect detail on the newspapers and glass warping was impressive. This photo doesn't do it justice.
This one was listed as $75k! But the perfect detail on the newspapers and glass warping was impressive. This photo doesn’t do it justice. Find it at Gallery Henoch.

We started at 4pm and most of the galleries close at 6pm. I thought that two hours was MORE than enough time, but we didn’t come close to seeing all the galleries we wanted to see. We’ll definitely be headed back soon. Here are the details:

Where: West 19th Street to West 28th between 10th Ave and 11th Ave, Manhattan
Subways: 123, ACE, or the L to 8th Ave. A couple blocks walk from any subway
When to Go: The majority of galleries are open 12pm – 6pm Tuesday through Saturday

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13 thoughts on “Walking New York: The Chelsea Art Galleries

  1. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life February 20, 2014 at 9:57 am

    I saw these one day when I was on my way over to the highline. Talk about a perfect frugal day, art galleries plus high line.

    • Mr NYBudget February 20, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      Great call! There are definitely enough art galleries for multiple trips, as well, so you won’t get bored if that is your go-to site-seeing activity when people come to visit.

  2. Leslie Beslie February 20, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Check The Skint for open studio listings, these happen often. Williamsburg and DUMBO are some of the more common areas for it. You’re allowed to go into the artist’s actual studio and see what they’re working on and in progress projects. Neat to see not only the finished project.
    Leslie Beslie recently posted: Working in a Factory (And knowing you could be replaced by robots)My Profile

    • Mr NYBudget February 20, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      That does sound awesome! I have a few issues with The Skint personally (once an event is in The Skint, everyone knows about it and it is crazy crowded), but this sounds like it could be amazing.

      • Leslie Beslie February 20, 2014 at 12:37 pm

        I agree. Partially it’s because everyone has read it and also partially because everyone loves free stuff. (I’ve written in the past why I avoid free things in ny!) I haven’t actually been to any of the open studio events but usually there’s a good number participating so maybe it wouldn’t be so hectic (esp earlier in the day).
        Leslie Beslie recently posted: Weekly Updates: Half Marathon Training at the GymMy Profile

  3. Kristin Wong February 20, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Every time I read your NY posts, I grow envious! Love it. We’re possibly planning a trip to NYC this year, so this is good to know!
    Kristin Wong recently posted: Don’t throw that out! Clever ways to reuse wine bottlesMy Profile

    • Mr NYBudget February 20, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      I will work furiously to get as many NYC posts up as possible before you make the trek out here! Let me know when you make it as well if you feel like meeting up.

  4. Phil February 20, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Nice suggestion to take in some culture. I’m more of a museum guy myself as I never walk through galleries. Might have to try it one day.
    Phil recently posted: Eating alone with my meandering thoughts in NYCMy Profile

    • Mr NYBudget February 20, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      Yeah – I appreciate museums, but my attention span is too short, sadly and I feel like I am forcing myself to stay and look at more. The galleries suit me because I check out the one room and then I am off for a bit of an outdoor walk before hitting up something completely different!

  5. Debby February 23, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Love this! And an extra tip: if you subscribe to a gallery’s newsletter, you might be alerted when they have a new exposition or installation, and you have yourself a night out with free drinks and hors d’oeuvres, on top of some art!
    Debby recently posted: Day 131 – Shhh! And things taboo – Part 2.My Profile

    • Mr NYBudget February 23, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      Awesome tip! Thanks Debby! I’m about to go sign up for some of those newsletters!

  6. Justin @ Root of Good February 23, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    That’s an awesome way to spend an afternoon! We have a number of galleries here in town as well, but I’ve never thought to spend a couple hours “window shopping” art. I’ve been to the art museum plenty, and yes, an hour or two is about the max I can take of art (being a non-connoisseur of fine art).

    I mean I like art, but it’s more of a “hey, that lady with a semi-smile is intriguing – oh it’s the Mona Lisa…”. And modern art is a complete waste on me. 🙂
    Justin @ Root of Good recently posted: Smart Travel Through Geographic ArbitrageMy Profile

    • Mr NYBudget February 23, 2014 at 8:18 pm

      I think you and I have a similar take on art. I am not an expert, but I am impressed with impressive/good looking pieces.

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