It was a canary in a coal mine moment when Heather Marx and Steve Zavattero announced on August 1, 2012 that they were leaving 77 Geary in search of another location for their eponymous art gallery. (That announcement preceded a number of rent hikes and evictions at both 77 and 49 Geary, decentering the downtown art scene and raising questions about the future of commercial galleries in a city with a traditionally small collector base.)
I have to admit that Marx/Zavattero was one of my favorite downtown destinations. You never knew what you might encounter stepping over the gallery’s threshold, but it somehow always felt like the art was straining against the boundaries of the mid-sized main room, threatening to break through the walls and invade the corridors of your mind, if not the physical space.
A year later, after a dispiriting tour through the looking-glass world of local commercial real estate, the couple sent out a final notice on August 1, 2013 that the Marx/Zavattero gallery was no more.
But for Heather Marx, that was just the beginning of a journey that leads to Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, when she opens Shift, her first show at The NWBLK. It would be hard for Shift to feel like it is straining against the boundaries of this particular location, which is a warehouse — a former municipal street sign storage space — that has been transformed by Creative Director Steven Miller into a swanky work slash exhibition space that specializes in high-end furniture and designer clothing. (I mean, this stuff is SERIOUS — sleek coffee tables made out of poured concrete that would probably fall through your creaky floor and that you know you don’t make enough money to even ask after the price. Well, if you’re me, that is. But, it’s cool. These objects look like mid-20th century modern married contemporary computer and had a design baby — handsome and clever, not cuddly.)
Into this environment of hard, hard edges, Marx is bringing her trademark humor, which celebrates quirk, surrealism and the violation of boundaries. Shift also launches a new art advisory business that arrives a little over two years after Marx and her husband realized their gallery was in for a big change — hence the title.
“When I came up with the name,” Marx says, “I was thinking ‘shift in material, form, color, light,’ all those classic words that you can use to describe objects. But it’s also about the shift in the way I am doing business and the way the art world works. A shift into combining multiple aesthetics and in ways of viewing and experiencing art.”