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On View: Gallerist Robin Rice Shows Her Own Work, In Her Beacon, NY, Loft

By David Schonauer   Wednesday May 15, 2019

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Robin Rice has taken up spinning.

Not the kind you do on bikes, but the kind deejays do.

She’s got a turntable setup at her loft in Beacon, New York, in a converted 19th-century textile mill along Fishkill Creek. A photo of her at her turntable in the loft was included recently in Chronogram, a lifestyle magazine focusing on the Hudson Valley.

The article coincided with an exhibition of Rice’s own photography at her eponymous New York gallery — the first time her gallery has shown the work she’s been doing for doing for some 40 years  — since the days she photographed the opening-night scene at Studio 54.

Which would explain her affection for spinning.

“Landing in Brooklyn in the mid-1970s, Rice and her camera had an intimate view of a distinctive moment in New York City's history,” noted Chronogram. “Shooting mainly in black and white, she developed her particular style of not-quite portraiture by training her lens on the artists, musicians, and iconoclasts around her, in a time of youthful freedom and self-discovery, right before the HIV/AIDS epidemic struck.”

This month, on  May 17, 18 and 19, Rice will be showing her photography in her loft as part of Beacon Open Studios, an annual event in which artists open their workspaces to the public.

“DISCOWORLD MAGAZINE, INFINITY 1976,” Robin Rice


“FIORUCCI SIDEWAYS, OPENING NIGHT STUDIO 54, 1977,” Robin Rice


“JENN S. INFINITY 1976,” Robin Rice

“An admitted ‘old-school photographer,’ Rice has been using the same style of small manual Nikon camera since those early days. (She still eschews digital cameras, preferring traditional film.) Instead of relying too heavily on technique or elaborate equipment, she learned to trust the simple chemistry between photographer and subject to create her portraits,” noted the Chronogram article.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Rice got her first camera at age 11. She moved to New York City in 1975 and lived near Pratt Institute with a friend who attended the school. Swept up in the art scene, Rice began using the dark room at Pratt and ended up launching a career in commercial and editorial photography. One of her first jobs: covering the opening night at Studio 54 for Discoworld magazine.

She opened the Robin Rice Gallery in 1990 and has become known for fostering a community of emerging and established photographers there. Her annual “Summertime Salon” (this year from July 17 through Sept. 22) is something like a family gathering.

“After featuring the work of so many other photographers for so many years, I just thought it was the right moment to finally show my own,” Rice recently told PPD. Hence the title of the exhibition at her New York Gallery, "It's About Time.”

 “TREE FARM, LONG LANE, EAST HAMPTON, EAST HAMPTON, NY, 1999,” Robin Rice


“HORSE IN THE CELTIC SEA, PENZANCE, ENGLAND, 2010," Robin Rice


“WOMAN IN CHAPS HAMPTON CLASSIC BRIDGEHAMPTON, 2008,” Robin Rice

Rice told Chronogram that her move to Beacon was precipitated by a desire to turn back to her own creative work. “After many years of dividing her time between a small apartment in the West Village and a house in Bridgehampton, Rice was ready to set up a complete work studio in one space,” noted the magazine.

"I loved the art community in Beacon, but mostly I loved the loft itself," Rice said. The space, part of a complex designed by architect Aryeh Siegal with working artists in mind, features 22-foot high ceilings and work prints of her photography tacked to the walls. Rice commutes to Manhattan and spends part of each week operating her gallery in the West Village.

But, as she told Chronogram, the Beacon loft is also just far enough away that she can focus on processing her own images. "I moved here mainly for my own work—some days I just scan all day long,” Rice said.
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At top: “SARAH AND ARCHER, LOS ANGELES, CA, 2015,” Robin Rice



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