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Monday, 09 April 2018 12:17

Former East Hills art gallery owner takes temporary downtown GR space

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Richard App plans to open Nomad Gallery this week at The Morton, a mixed-use Rockford Construction project in downtown Grand Rapids. Richard App plans to open Nomad Gallery this week at The Morton, a mixed-use Rockford Construction project in downtown Grand Rapids. PHOTO: Nick Manes

GRAND RAPIDS –– Following the February closing of his longtime art gallery in Grand Rapids’ East Hills neighborhood, Richard App plans to open a new space in the central business district — at least temporarily.

App expects Nomad Gallery will debut this week on three floors of The Morton, a historic, mixed-use building redeveloped by Rockford Construction Co. Inc. that reopened in 2015 with apartments, office and commercial space.

The approximately 17,000 square feet of space that Nomad Gallery will occupy had previously struggled to attract tenants because of its low visibility and significant buildout costs. The lack of interest from would-be tenants resulted in the building’s ownership renegotiating its incentive deal with the state last year, as MiBiz previously reported.

It remains unclear how long App will operate his new gallery at The Morton. However, he believes the temporary, “nomad” model speaks to how people now want to visit art galleries these days.

“Years ago we used to do shows and we’d get several hundred people in without trying,” App told MiBiz. “That was kind of what people did. Now there’s such an online presence, there’s so many things going on in the city, if you miss a show by this artist you can go see their show next week. I wanted to get some space where I’d be there for a finite amount of time, do a couple shows in that space and if you miss them you miss them,”

App said having the art gallery in the building could help the developers promote it to long-term users who would otherwise be hesitant to sign a lease for a space that some sources described as having less-than-ideal exposure for traditional retail users.

“Honestly, I want someone to put something cool in this space because it’s a cool space,” App said.

Executives at Rockford Construction said App’s gallery concept fits the vision for The Morton.

“We’re looking forward to partnering with Rich on this creative effort, activating existing space and promoting art throughout West Michigan,” Rockford Construction CEO Mike VanGessel, said in a statement. “Rich has a strong history in promoting art in Grand Rapids and we’re excited to work with him—it’s a natural fit for Rockford projects to house the Nomad Gallery concept.”

Read 3749 times Last modified on Monday, 09 April 2018 12:27

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