Within a week of accepting the offer to sublet a portion of space from my friend’s gallery, and therefore get away from the ‘evil’ landlord of Culver City as fast as I could,  I was moved in. But, as the universe has a funny way of operating, my car was also rear ended two blocks from that old gallery and completely totaled in the back. Things were starting off shaky.

The new space was on the other end of the county in Pasadena; a charming stepford wives city that only twenty years or so prior used to be the absolute pits with punk rock heroin junkies and broken windows. It was also the smallest space yet. In fact, much smaller than I had anticipated. 

By this time I had built a lot of custom furniture pieces that doubled as both display and storage units. One of which, was a giant table on wheels that I absolutely loved, but unfortunately had zero chances of survival being that it took up more space than was allotted. A space that got even smaller due to unforeseen challenges in the sublet situation, which would eventually lead to me leaving.

I had worked with the owner of the new location before as a curator and pr person. They were a friend and so at first I felt comfortable in the new space. Albeit, soon I realized working as a curator had a different weight to it than actually subletting out space. As a curator, I could make creative choices but at the end of the day the owner was essentially my boss. Whereas, as a subletter, it changed the situation to one of a renter and a landlord. 

I began feeling captive because I wanted to expand all the wild and epic things my gallery was doing without disrupting the other gallery’s brand whose space I was now in. It was a constant energy zap. Especially, when one day the owner asked me to tame down the artwork for an upcoming show, which is something I wouldn’t even consider in the slightest.

As destiny would also have it, I found a little note I had left myself long ago buried away in a notebook that said “BUY LAND, HOST POP UPS”. So one morning after I had given a rent check for a lesser amount (as I was pissed the space was smaller than initially agreed upon) I said that I didn’t want to rent from them anymore and that I’d rather just be friends.

I think it inevitably hurt the friendship. There really wasn’t much communication afterward and the atmosphere in the space felt tense. It also became even more uncomfortable when I thought it would be a great idea to host an art walk to bring the local businesses more publicity. An idea which would eventually be soured by one heinous business for no apparent reason.

I was able to get 6 super cool businesses all within a couple blocks from our location on board and even a couple of the local contemporary art museums. It was called the Pasadena Art Walk because that seemed to describe it perfectly, a chance for people to walk around Pasadena and look at art.

Anyways, it was all going great, until out of the blue I get an email from one of the shops involved asking to be removed from the flyers and Facebook event page. I snarkingly replied “Ok, bigshot” and did as they asked. Obviously, I couldn’t remove them from what had already been posted by other people like local press in Pasadena who had listed the event on their calendars.

But that wasn’t enough for this shop. They began calling other businesses involved and annoying them, saying the city was going to sue us (when they had no intent of doing that) and even began manipulating people in city positions - telling them I had falsely advertised the event as being officially sanctioned and organized by the city. When, the whole time, in all of my promotion, I had clearly stated that this was going to be an art walk set up by the local businesses.

It all came to a head when they annoyed the city so much that they actually sent me a cease and desist letter - saying I could no longer call the event the Pasadena Art Walk - and by this time the other businesses had been so annoyed that they didn’t want to take part anymore; no matter what the name was. 

The funny thing is - the controversy actually drew more people who were curious to see what all the fuss was about. And all of the businesses who wanted out were open anyways, so it was an art walk, even though it wasn’t an art walk, which in effect render it an art walk - if you get what I mean.

We had a political art show up at the time by the artist JT Steiny and a few days before we officially ceased operations there a news crew arrived to interview us. They told us it was going out to 800 different stations around the world, but we never saw it, so if you did please send us a link. 

I kept thinking about that post it note I had left myself. Why did I write it in all caps? Why did I find it when I did? I could only take it as a sign of progress. It was time to move forward and not repeat what I had been doing. Like a butterfly forming from a caterpillar, Daniel Rolnik Gallery would metamorphisize into the Daniel Rolnik Foundation so that ideas could not be stopped and beauty our creativity could be free to fly.

Daniel Rolnik Foundation