Now, more than a decade after they opened their first space, the rest of the art world seems to be catching up, with Hollybush Gardens artists Charlotte Prodger, Andrea Büttner, and Himid all receiving nominations for (or winning) the Turner Prize in recent years.
Panting and Ståhl hope that, in the future, they are no longer outliers. “It’s not simply the question of gender now, it’s a very deep-rooted question about how artists get selected, who gets what position, how this world is gatekept,” Panting says. “It won’t sustain itself if it doesn’t break beyond what it has been.”
Penny Pilkington, 63, & Wendy Olsoff, 63, Cofounders of P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York
In some ways, the history of P.P.O.W. doubles as a history of art galleries in New York. Founders Penny Pilkington and Wendy Olsoff opened their first space—the name is a combination of their initials—in the East Village in 1983 before moving to SoHo and then, in 2002, to Chelsea. Now, they are getting ready to move yet again, to the fast-growing gallery hub of Tribeca. All the while, however, one thing has differentiated them from the pack: an unwavering commitment to artists, like Martin Wong and David Wojnarowicz, who grapple with politics and identity, whether or not the subject matter was market-friendly at the time. “We realized along the way that we should stick to our strengths, and our strengths were the artists we showed,” Olsoff says.
In recent years, the gallery has begun working with a number of younger artists who carry on this legacy—among them, Aaron Gilbert, Ramiro Gomez, and Carlos Motta. In light of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, the duo are continuing to seek out new voices—and question their own. “We always showed artists of color,” Olsoff says, “but as two white women, where can we do better and how can we educate our staff and continue to serve as a role model for other galleries?”