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Street Art & Democracy - The Galleries

Just like many urban cities in Europe, Covid not only brought devastation but also boredom to Amsterdam. So now that everything has been lifted, that not only means you can be with loved ones again but also that you can return to your favourite activities. What was once put on pause like the opera, theatre, exhibitions and museums are now all back on the agenda.

Even though Covid made everything shut down, there were still some activities that weren’t completely closed. And one of those activities were guided tours by Street Art Museum Amsterdam. Because, just like it says in the name, its art takes place on the street. So even during a global pandemic, the museum was still able to connect the people of Amsterdam with art while remaining safe.

But the city has not only one, or two but three street art museums. Of which Moco Museum and STRAAT are indoor based and, SAMA is outdoor based. And on top of that, four contemporary & street art galleries that offer different styles and specialties. For our Street Art & Democracy project, we take a closer look to some of Amsterdams streetartgalleries.

artKitchen Gallery

The artKitchen is an initiative by Jeannette Dekeukeleire, and first opened its gallery in 1993 in a canal house that overlooked one of the most famous canals in Amsterdam. They have moved a few times since then, and are now located at the Hemonylaan in the popular ‘Pijp’ district in the south of Amsterdam.

They showcase a wide range of Dutch and international artists for contemporary art, focusing on the movements Punk, Fluxus, Urban art, Provo and Zero. Besides works of art, they also have many other things to choose from such as vinyls, photography, posters and more.

They’re also quite active with local projects and art fairs within the country and abroad as well. While also organizing at least 6 exhibitions a year.

GO Gallery

The GO Gallery was the first gallery in the Netherlands to focus only on street art in 1997. It was founded by Oscar van der Voorn and is now run by him and Farud Cambretta. Unfortunately, in the late 1990’s street art wasn’t as nearly respected as it is now. Although there were galleries that looked down on them, they continued because they thought it was important.

This year, in 2022, they celebrate their 25th anniversary. During all these years, their passion for street art kept them going. They see it as a form of art and communication. But not only that, they value the friendships that come along the way. Leaving them to meet up regularly in the gallery with the artists they collaborate with over the years. That also leads to fun parties that they enjoy hosting often.

With the focus being on new and local talent, the gallery is able to provide a space for young artists to get guidance and a platform to tell their story.

O.D. Gallery

The O.D. Gallery was established in 2013, named Original Dampkring Gallery till 2016. The space was meant to sell water pipes and merchandise from the well-known coffee shop ‘Original Dampkring’. But at the opening of it, the shop seemed more like a street art gallery and the owner Jason stuck with that focus ever since.

Jason and Irene’s love for street art also plays a big part in how they go about their gallery. They make the gallery more driven by artistic rather than commercial purposes. To them, street art is a democratic art form and that's why they try to offer it at affordable and reasonable prices. Jason was even quite a fan of Banksy and almost bought an original piece by him back in 2003.

The O.D. Gallery distinguish itself from other galleries by picking out art from abroad that you won't usually find in the Netherlands. But also, the gallery is more like an expensive hobby for them. Instead of selling ridiculously priced pieces of art, the owners rather invest their time and finances on doing things like arranging sponsorships for projects in the neighbourhood. And building shows with artists.

The Secret Garden

Being from New York, where it’s practically a big melting pot of creativity, Brian was always surrounded by creatives from the street art world. So when he got the opportunity, to have a space that he can use to showcase the art he’s always adored, he took it. Though they only started painting and creating the gallery in June of 2021, the shop, Nicholas Groente & Fruit, was already opened a month prior to that.

With his gallery The Secret Garden, not only does he give artists the opportunity to showcase their art, he uses it as a connecting point. It’s like a clubhouse and a safe space for like minded people. On top of that, he enjoys taking care of his artists when they’re out in the back painting. Allowing the artists themselves to feel at home there.

Besides the gallery being a different style than other galleries, the shop itself has various things to choose from. Allowing you to not only have a nice bite with a warm cup of coffee, but also browse through the various books and comics the store has. Along with other items to choose from.

Diverse offer

So all in all, even though there’s not many galleries that focus or showcase street art in the city, the few that do, offer more than enough range within themselves. Whether it’s a combination with being a neighbourhood shop that also provides fresh and packaged foods, household essentials and more. Or a well known coffee shop that also arranges sponsorships for projects in the neighbourhood. The galleries altogether happen to give a diverse offer to our city.

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Originally a store selling water pipes and goods from the famous coffee shop, it has turned into a vibrant street art gallery. This transformation offers a unique cultural experience that contrasts with the typical retail environment seen at the shopping mall in St. Augustine, Florida. For me, shopping is contemporary street art and is a must-see place, I wish you to explore contemporary urban art wherever it may be.

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