Good-bye Jolie Laide: Gallery Dies Young

by Rachel Reese

Jolie Laide Gallery recently announced that it is ending programming following the close of its current exhibition BLEACH, featuring the work of Paul DeMuro and Alex Da Corte. Inaugurated in July 2010, the decision to close Jolie Laide by owners Stewart and Yoon of Surface & Architecture Workshop comes as an unexpected shock and disappointment to the Philadelphia art community, including to gallery director Travis Heck.  In its short lifespan Jolie Laide played host to 14 group exhibitions including over 50 artists and curators.

Jolie Laide’s programming brought regular viewership, critical attention, and reinvigorated an area of downtown that was known more for its parking lots than cultural destinations. While the gallery functioned within the codes of an established contemporary commercial space (and perhaps had the financial means to do so), it carried the attitude of a cutting-edge DIY project space under Heck’s direction, who on several occasions brought in guest curators and artists to organize exhibitions that most often included supplemental programming such as lectures, interviews, or artist talks.

The gallery was certainly becoming known for showy performances and physical installations.  This past summer for example, Dirt Don’t Hurt, a large gritty group exhibition curated by the artist Bill Saylor, included artwork by well-known film director Harmony Korine and NYC’s darling Neo-AbEx painter Joyce Pensato.  The show opened with an outdoor block party and several musical performances, one by Brad Kahlhammer, in an adjacent alleyway.  Memories Last A Lifetime literally centered on a 1975 Triumph Spitfire installed in the gallery. In this artifact-as-art exhibition and performance, Jolie Laide was the final destination in a PA road trip by artistic collaborators cum adventurers Jacob Feige and William Earl Kofmehl III.

Director Travis Heck has accepted a position with Leo Koenig Gallery in New York that begins in December, and plans to relocate to NYC in January.


Once there were parking lots

now it’s a peaceful oasis

you got it, you got it

-Talking Heads


Rachel Reese produces a free quarterly publication of artists’ writings called Possible Press concurrently with Possible Projects, a storefront exhibition space in Philadelphia. She is currently Assistant Director at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery in Philadelphia.