J, M, Z at Essex St.
Parking garages on Essex Street; no special deals or discounts
Admission is free; call to discuss event pricing
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This exquisite former synagogue has operated as a gallery and event space since its purchase in 1986 by Angel Orensanz, a Spanish sculptor and multimedia artist. Today, in addition to publishing the quarterly Artscape Magazine, the Angel Orensanz Foundation offers its space for rent, especially to arts organizations looking to develop or display their work, be it framed pressed flowers or classical opera. In the nave, column shafts along the aisle draw the eye up, past the gallery-level balcony and clerestory, and toward the rib-vaulted cobalt ceiling. Meanwhile, underneath a large Star of David, three pointed arches frame an ark that once held the synagogue’s sacred scrolls. The lower level of the building houses the small gallery space, and the space’s exposed-brick and ornate ceiling also allows it to serve as a catering hall or a greenroom for brides celebrating their wedding upstairs. Foundation director Al Orensanz says that the organization aims to “maintain, not restore” the space, allowing the synagogue’s years to show in the chipped paint and uneven floors. The result is a spectacular space that’s not cheap to rent, but worth saving up for.Museum
Though exhibitions don’t take place on a regular schedule, a permanent museum of Angel Orensanz’s work is planned for the clerestory.