A.I.R. GALLERY - Celebrating 40 years of advocating for women in the visual arts.
H O M E  
A R T I S T S  
C O N T A C T  
E X H I B IT S  
F E L L O W S H I P  
H I S T O R Y  
Early A.I.R. Artists  
On A.I.R.  
A.I.R Archive  
Essay by Carey Lovelace  
Essay by Dena Muller  
G A L A '08'  
A.I.R. - A Short History  
O P P O R T U N I T I E S  
P R E S S  
F L A T F I L E S  
D O N A T E  

The History of A.I.R.

Mission Statement

In 1972, a group of women artists founded A.I.R. (Artists in Residence) Gallery—the first artists-run gallery for women in the United States. A.I.R.’s goal is to provide a professional and permanent exhibition space for women artists to present work of quality and diversity. A.I.R. is an artist directed and maintained gallery, providing a sense of community for women and serving as a model for other alternative galleries and organizations. Through lectures, symposia and a Fellowship Program for emerging women artists, A.I.R. Gallery sustains a political awareness and voice, and brings new understanding to old attitudes about women in the arts.

A.I.R. primarily accomplishes our goals through our exhibition programs: solo shows of Gallery Artists, sponsored solo shows for our Fellowship Artists, group shows of National & International Artists, and group shows designed to include a broader community of women artists such as our "Generations" invitational series and our juried Biennial Exhibitions. A.I.R. also meets our mission by addressing topics of concern to the public through lectures and symposia; by bringing the work of our exhibiting artists to the awareness of museums, collectors and critics; by working with interns and volunteers; and by making our archive of materials documenting the nearly 40-year history of A.I.R. available to the public.

A.I.R. History

In 1972, the founding members of A.I.R. (Artists in Residence, Inc.), Dotty Attie, Maude Boltz, Mary Grigoriadis, Nancy Spero, Susan Williams and Barbara Zucker, selected fourteen artists to join them as original members: Rachel bas-Cohain, Judith Bernstein, Blythe Bohnan, Agnes Denes, Daria Dorosh, Loretta Dunkelman, Harmony Hammond, Laurace James, Nancy Kitchell, Louise Kramer, Anne Healy, Rosemarie Mayer, Patsy Norvell and Howardena Pindell. Together they established policy, incorporated as a 501c3 not-for-profit organization and renovated their first gallery space at 97 Wooster Street.

The membership of A.I.R. meets monthly and each artist actively participates in committees (such as Finance, Membership, Exhibitions, and Social Media). As the governing body of the organization, the member-artists determine the direction of the gallery and vote in new members. Each artist is in charge of her own exhibition; she curates and installs her work, allowing for experimentation and risk not always possible in commercial venues.

The gallery doors opened on September 16, 1972, with a group show of ten gallery artists. The event was covered by a broad spectrum of publications from The New York Times to Ms. Magazine. From the first year, A.I.R. hosted many public- and community-oriented programs: establishing an internship providing gallery experience to students with art-related majors; creating a series of performances, panels and discussions on topics of art and feminism; and initiating invitational shows called “Open Air” that offered non-member artists an exhibit at the gallery.

In the Spring of 1976, A.I.R. asked French critic Aline Dallier, to curate a show of contemporary French women artists entitled Combative Acts, Profiles and Voices. This was the first in a series of international and curated shows exhibited at and sponsored by the gallery:

  • Women Artists from Japan (1978)
  • Artists from Israel (1979)
  • Dialectics of Isolation: An Exhibition of Third World Women Artists in the United States (1980, co-curated by Kazuko and Ana Mendieta)
  • Sweden Comes to New York (1981)
  • Choice (1992, over 750 small works on the theme of reproductive rights)
  • States of the Art 1993, (curated by Lowery Sims, Curator of 20th Century Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
  • Caught Between Mind and Body (1994, curated by Betti Sue Hertz of the Bronx Arts Council on the subject of women's health)
  • Imprint (1994, a photography exhibition)
  • Domestic Goods: Women Artists for Central Europe (2005)
  • A.I.R. Expedition Sweden (2010, group show by seven Swedish women artists)
These special exhibitions, as well as the member-artists' exhibitions, are often complimented by panel discussions, lectures or performances on related topics, such as "Ruminations on Race and Culture: The Politics of Women's Health."

In 1981, we created the National Artists Program to broaden our network of support and enrich A.I.R. by introducing regional perspectives. The National Artists program offers women from across the country the opportunity to exhibit their work in a New York gallery where they gain exposure and peer interaction as gallery artists. In 2010 we expanded to include international women artists, thus fostering a global art dialogue and expanding the opportunities for women artists worldwide.

After occupying a gallery space at 63 Crosby Street from 1981-1994, A.I.R. Gallery relocated to 40 Wooster Street from 1994 - 2002, 511 West 25th Street in Chelsea from 2002 - 2008, and is now situated in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, at 111 Front Street.

Advocating for women in the visual arts since 1972