19Karen Contemporary Artspace is at the fore of uncovering and showcasing cutting edge contemporary works by local, Australian and international artists. Fusing innovation, risk taking and high art in low spaces, 19Karen is a gallery not to be missed on any creative itinerary.
Named after its address, 19Karen is an exceptional warehouse-gallery conversion tucked away in a Mermaid Beach industrial estate. Art collector and co-founder of the space, Terri Lew, left her career in publishing to pursue her passion for art, converting the humble warehouse into a contemporary art space in 2008. Despite having the plan of starting an art space being on her radar for a while, the project unfolded faster than expected when she paired up with local artist and curator, Mariam Arcilla.
“The opportunity came about earlier than I expected when I was approached by an old colleague, Lorraine Pilgrim, who was mentoring a young arts worker, Mariam Arcilla, asking me if I would let Mariam use my then old warehouse for Tiny Gold exhibition. When I met Mariam I found out that we shared similar love for the arts and later I approached her to become my partner and launch the gallery as a commercial gallery with the opening of Tiny Gold Exhibition,” says Lew.
Fast forward 6 years and 19Karen has seen some of the finest contemporary Australian art move through the space and is a must-do for art lovers looking for one-off pieces and creative exhibitions. 19Karen operates chiefly as a gallery with solo and group shows every 6 weeks but it also offers access to the art stockroom for serious art collectors and hire of the space for private functions, product launches and other events.
Proud of her city, Terri Lew advocates for the arts industry and asserts that there is much more to the Gold Coast than the ‘Sun, Surf and Sex’ image of the 80’s and 90’s.
“I have noticed that in the past 6 years since 19 Karen was launched in an old converted warehouse, many young entrepreneurs have taken the plunge and started small businesses in the most obscure places. The Gold Coast now boasts many groovy cafes and shops, small galleries and the famous Miami Marketta which attract mostly the local population, young and old alike,” says Lew.
“The Gold Coast has a similar vibe to the big cities but with the advantage of the beautiful weather, the beaches and…..”
19Karen espouses all that there is to love about contemporary art; they’re bold, innovative and above all else, their artist selections are driven by exceptional art, not the length of an artists CV.
“19 Karen takes a different approach when choosing the artists to show in the gallery. Whereas most commercial galleries won’t take a chance on an unknown emerging artists and choose the artists mainly by their resume and achievements, 19 Karen looks at the artwork first. If I feel that the artists are talented and have the potential, I will show their work. Some of these artists have gone into bigger and better things including ending up with galleries that didn’t notice them before they were represented by 19 Karen,” says Lew.
Beyond the four walls of the gallery Lew’s work is at the fore of edgy urban street art. Over the years, 19Karen has presented the work of Mymo, Claudio Ethos, Skount and Agostino Iacurci just to name a few. These artists have completed works both within and outside of the space, with works being featured at the Surfers Paradise Festival and most recently, on the exterior walls of the Sofitel Hotel in Broadbeach.
“The wall mural at the Sofitel Hotel was the first International Hotel to lead the way in street art. I never expected the Sofitel Hotel to say yes when I approached their General Manager, Amery Burleigh, to use their wall for a street artist from Brazil. Amery took me totally by surprise when she said yes” remarks Lew.
The great partnership between 19Karen and Sofitel doesn’t end there, Lew has been consistently impressed and overwhelmed by Sofitel’s openness and eager support of the contemporary art scene.
“We have a great partnership with the hotel and adorn their lobby and 2 floors with our art. In addition to that we stage a beautiful themed group shows once a year bringing people from all walks of life to enjoy the art and the entertainment offered by the hotel. No other gallery on the Gold Coast does this. We also ran various art programs including Artists Talks at their beautiful restaurant Room81,” says Lew.
January – general stock exhibition
Peter Nowotny solo show – Opens 21st February
R.Nicholas Kuszyk (RROBOTS) solo show – Opens 21st February