The Pools Open!

Art Zealous is the first to announce the opening of Public Swim, a collaboration between Madeleine Mermall and Catherine Fenton Bernath.

Madeleine Mermall and Catherine Fenton Bernath are teaming up on Public Swim, a new Lower East Side gallery/project/event space.  The pair hope it will serve as a neighborhood focal point and community gathering place. Mermall and Bernath want Public Swim to be a non-elitist art space where everyone will feel welcome, valued, and supported. The name of the gallery, Public Swim, is derived from the acronym SWIM “Someone Who Isn’t Me.” Their goal is to foster “a space where contemporary art collectors and emerging artists can come together for engaged conversation and art viewing pleasure.” The galleries program will focus on solo and curated group shows, as well as talks, readings, and community events. The first event will be held on December 11th. It will be an evening of conversation with artist Amanda Field and playwright Kate Scelsa. They will be discussing Field’s participation in The Show About a Show, and Scelsa’s play The Crack, which is currently in development. The Show About Shows was recently featured in the New York Times Magazine. 

The inaugural show, which will open in January, will feature work by Henri Paul Broyard, Carlo D’Anselmi, Madeline Donahue, Hilary Doyle, Hank Ehrenfried, Emilia Olsen, Rachel Rickert, and Michael Craig Tracy.

The gallery is currently under renovations; however, a site-specific work by artist Emilia Olsen titled How To Be Alone is presently on view in the gallery’s window. Using the under-construction status of the gallery and turning it into an opportunity to present artwork accessible to the casual passerby is an indication of the unique direction the gallery will be taking. The gallery will be holding first Friday portfolio reviews giving selected artists a chance to participate in a summer residency project which will culminate in a solo show.

Mermall and Bernath both believe in “accessibility and that everyone should be able to live with a piece of art they love. There are too many barriers to collecting art, so in addition to the works for sale in the gallery, we’re excited to offer unique art objects and prints available online at varied price points.”

Madeleine Mermall’s most recent curatorial project SPF 32, a summer-themed exhibition, was held in a beautifully rustic area of the oldest brewery in Brooklyn. The show featured emerging and mid-career representational painters. She has also curated the exhibition program at Spoonbill Books since 2017. Mermall is “passionate about art as well as the written word.” She is also a fiction writer and poet. She says she “is a romanticist and finds sublimity in the mundane.” 

Catherine Fenton Bernath is an artist and producer, who has been curating experiential gallery installations since 2015, most recently Auntie/Uncle Julius, Welcome Always by Azikiwe Mohammed in project space Love, Henry. Interestingly Bernath has created and produced several television projects, including Unleashed by Garo series for the Sundance Channel. Bernath is a passionate advocate for women in the arts, having served on the board of New Georges, a theater company supporting women and gender-nonconforming artists. 

Public Swim will be located at 105 Henry Street, NY, NY. Follow them on instagram.