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The Return of Art on Sunday

What self-respecting high-end boutique would be closed half the weekend?

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Even as Chelsea’s art galleries have become more and more like luxury-goods retailers, they’ve maintained the traditional Tuesday-through-Saturday schedule. But that might be changing. In January, Moti Hasson’s 25th Street gallery is going to start opening on Sundays.

Already, some of the spaces in the up-and-coming Lower East Side gallery district, including Orchard, Smith-Stewart, and Miguel Abreu, open Sunday, and others, including Salon 94 on Freeman’s Alley, are considering it. This is partly because it’s hard to visit both Chelsea and the LES in one Saturday.

The last time the scene split, it was between Soho and Chelsea. “People wouldn’t go to Chelsea on Saturdays because they were in Soho,” says Carol Greene, who opened Greene Naftali on 26th Street in 1995, with Sunday hours. “Sunday they came to Chelsea. Dia was already open, so it was based on the Dia schedule.” Brent Sikkema of Sikkema Jenkins & Co. remembers that “when my gallery was still in Soho, I loved the fact that Chelsea galleries were open on Sundays … We are all prisoners to the same schedule, which makes it difficult to see shows.” But once Chelsea reached critical mass, it was back to Saturdays only. “We didn’t get tons of people,” recalls Greene. “Once Barbara Gladstone came to Chelsea, she said, ‘No more Sundays.’ ”

But the art world has gone into overdrive since then. “The galleries are working harder than ever,” says Courtney Plummer, sales director at Lehmann Maupin, which recently opened an LES satellite. “But if there is a demand, we would be open to the possibility.” It wouldn’t be easy. And Sikkema thinks he’d have a “full-blown staff rebellion.”

“At the end of the day, galleries are a business. It’s odd when they aren’t open on people’s day off,” Hasson says. “Galleries get comfortable. They have their own sector of collectors and can sell out a show in a couple of hours. They could work two days a week to do that, but how are you serving the community?”

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