From Engine Oil to Oil on Canvas: An Interview with Gavin Brown

Locals know it as the DaBrescia Motors building — a fixture in the Hancock community for decades. Now, art dealer Gavin Brown and artist/chef Rirkrit Tiravanija have given the space new life as a combined art gallery/kitchen dubbed UncleBrother. In more than a nod to its former service as a car dealership and auto repair shop, Brown and Tiravanija have opted to maintain the building’s original facade, complete with the DaBrescia Motors signage and signature faded Robin’s Egg Blue metal trim remaining intact. Inside the structure, the theme continues, with exposed concrete, chipped paint, and a state-of-the-art stainless steel commercial kitchen that feels at home in the former garage.

Brown and Tiravanija have maintained homes in the Hancock area for a number of years, only recently entering into the radar of local residents by the establishment of the UncleBrother gallery last year. Brown, one of the “100 Most Influential People in the Art World” according to artnet news, shared his vision for UncleBrother with Destination: Hancock as he was traveling 30,000 feet in the air from Europe to New York:

“Hancock is… a great town with a spectacular setting. And when [Rirkrit and I] saw that the garage was for sale, it seemed obvious. We had both daydreamed of seeing art within that setting. It is a clean and clear context to see art… in a new and refreshing way.”

UncleBrother is a new and unfamiliar experience for most of “the locals.” Historically supported primarily by the logging and bluestone industry, with a decidedly conservative, rural, blue-collar bent, Hancock still feels a world away from metropolitan New York. And that suits Gavin Brown and Rirkrit Tiravanija just fine. Says Brown, “Hancock gives artists space to think and create in ways that one can no longer in the City. The space reminds us of the raw sense that early spaces in Soho had in the 70s.”

When asked what he hopes to achieve with UncleBrother, Brown responded, “It’s important for people to see art… to have the opportunity to see art. We hope to bring art we believe in to the banks of the Delaware River. To us, that is a magical possibility. Great for the art — fresh eyes on it — and great for the visitors who have not looked at much art — previously unseen objects. I have no expectations of how people might relate [to the art]. I would recommend an open mind and open eyes. Look and keep looking. Don’t bring preconceptions. All views and ideas are valid.”

Brown concluded, “I hope that we can take a place in Hancock that is stimulating to both the people visiting Hancock who might be familiar with the art but also for the people of Hancock who have a memory of the building when cars were sold there. We hope that the art and the kitchen will be a positive evolution. From the internal combustion engine to oil on canvas and Thai curry.”

This summer, UncleBrother features an exhibition of artists working in the abstract tradition. Ages and origins of the art and artists vary widely. Who could ever have imagined they would all find a comfortable home in this old garage?

For location and hours of operation, see our Museums and Galleries section.

Editor’s Note: Destination: Hancock looks forward to the opportunity to speak with Rirkrit Tiravanija in the near future to capture his vision for the kitchen/restaurant side of the UncleBrother experience. Stay tuned!

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