After a long journey to fruition, Obscura Gallery and Brant Mackley Gallery have opened their doors. A joint venture between Mackley, a dealer in antique Native American and tribal arts, and his partner, photographer Jennifer Schlesinger, the new galleries occupy a refurbished historic building on the corner of Paseo de Peralta and Galisteo Street. If you missed the grand opening in June, not to worry. Obscura hosts Limelight, its inaugural group exhibition of photography, this month.
Mackley, who had been working as a private dealer, intended to open his own gallery for some time. In anticipation of that, he purchased the approximately 3,100-square-foot space soon after he and Schlesinger moved into a new home in the South Capitol district in 2016. The move proved fortuitous for Schlesinger, formerly the director of Verve Gallery of Photography, when she learned that Verve would be closing soon after she relocated. “It was like October, and we had just moved into this place in September,” she said. “I was super devastated because I had worked there for 11 years. I came home that day and Brant said, ‘No big deal, just start your own gallery. You can share the space with me.’ I went into work the next day and started making plans. Verve was very helpful in helping me transfer some of the artists I wanted to take.” Verve, a high-profile gallery that occupied a space on Marcy Street, officially closed its doors on Feb. 1, 2017, after the run of its final group show.
The joint exhibition space on Paseo and Galisteo, meanwhile, needed quite a lot of work, including a whole new roof. “There was a lot of structural damage that we had to deal with, which held up a lot of the project,” Schlesinger said. In the interim between Verve’s closing and the official opening of Obscura, she operated out of her own home, meeting with clients and establishing an online presence while the new site was undergoing its extensive remodel. “We thoroughly gutted the place. It was bare almost down to the wood frames, and we put in all new insulation and electric. The only thing that’s really original is the outside walls,” she said.