Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, aka New York’s hipster hub, just got a new art gallery. Hetvonulsen NH (HNH) opened in late February on 3,000 square feet of prime real estate on the corner of North 1st Street and Berry Street, right in the bustling heart of the trendy neighborhood. What’s most interesting about the gallery, however, isn’t necessarily the art on display, but the people who run it: 23-year-old Lucas Lovejoy and 24-year-old Nidaa Ombali, two fresh-out Gen Zers of the University.
Lovejoy and Ombali first met two years ago at a pop-up exhibit of Lovejoy’s paintings at a fashion store in Manhattan. They bonded over celebrity designer Vivienne Westwood’s jewelry, which they both wore, and became friends. Last May, they both graduated from New York University (NYU), where Lovejoy studied fine arts and finance, and Ombali studied leadership and management. In February, they were on tour for another pop-up exhibition of Lovejoy’s work when they received a phone call from Noel John, one of the owners of the vintage furniture store. Designer collaboration in North Williamsburg, which surprised them with a rare career opportunity for their age.
John offered the duo to sublet the space on North 1st Street, which previously housed a cafe and pool lounge, for an art gallery that would also feature some of Designers Collab’s furniture. The three signed a one-month contract with an option to extend based on gallery performance.
“The timing was so divine,” Ombali told Hyperallergic in an interview. “We weren’t even thinking about a permanent space.”
In just two weeks after the phone call with John, the young curators gutted the three-level space, reimagined it as a gallery and worked around the clock to install their first exhibition, Open a portalwhich opened to the public on February 26.
Speaking to Hyperallergic at the gallery, Lovejoy said he “prayed” for the exhibit, revealing a spiritual side to him that wasn’t immediately apparent.
“Through this space, we want to show the creative light that comes from the divine,” he said. “Our goal is to enlighten artists in our community.”
The inaugural exhibition features photographs, sculptures and paintings by ten artists, including several works by Lovejoy. The most expensive piece in the show is a $40,000 diamond-encrusted bracelet designed by Blakely Thornton. The second most expensive work is a $30,000 marble sculpture by Sam Tavill. Other performers on the show include Melanese Reid, Mark Behnam, Oscar Ozbay, and John Kim. The works hang above, between and around Designers Collab furniture, also on sale. The gallery also offers relatively affordable wares, including silk prints and clothing, to support itself.
When asked how this opportunity came to him at such a young age, Lovejoy replied, “God blessed me.”
Raised in Los Angeles, the budding artist and curator is the son of a former pastor and a retired worker for a faith-based nonprofit. Her parents and younger brother Sam were at the gallery at the time of the interview.
“I’m amazed he got this far so fast,” Randy Lovejoy said of his eldest son. “He’s a networker. It’s a great skill to have.
Randy Lovejoy left the church a year ago but still keeps his Christian faith. He is currently working on developing an online platform to provide counseling for people like him who need support in life after church.
Ombali, who was born in London to a Muslim family from Sudan, told Hyperallergic that she shares her gallery partner’s spiritual worldview.
“We pray a lot in the gallery,” Ombali said. “We started doing this as soon as we entered the space to make sure all bad energy was cleared and to bring positivity.”
Now the pressure is on the duo to prove themselves. Ombali said feedback from the local community has so far been positive and other galleries in the area have offered advice and support. “We work hard every day until late at night and we pray. Hopefully this will work in our favour. »