The Clocktower Gallery and ARTonAIR.org
Founded in 1972 by Alanna Heiss, the Clocktower Gallery is a legendary alternative art space for exhibitions, performances, long-term and site-specific installations, and artist residencies. Over its 40-year history, the Clocktower has presented formative work by some of the most important artists of our time, including Gordon Matta-Clark, Max Neuhaus, Lynda Benglis, Dennis Oppenheim, Vito Acconci, Nam June Paik, Charlotte Moorman, Laurie Anderson, David Tudor, Marina Abramović, and Christian Marclay, among many others. Today, the Clocktower presents a full program of exhibitions, performances, and residencies that honor the spirit of the alternative spaces movement by focusing on experimental, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational projects.
The Clocktower Gallery’s radio station is a free and searchable online cultural audio archive operating at www.ARTonAIR.org. Its 5,000 hours of diverse, indexed content –an unduplicated collection in any media– consist of non-commercial music, audio art, spoken word, cultural news, history and dialogue, and new media innovation. ARTonAIR’s mission is to excel as a globally accessible and technically innovative deliverer of content, through a traditional radio-style stream of hosted shows in a curated schedule and a searchable on-demand archive.
Together, the Clocktower Gallery and ARTonAIR.org function as a laboratory for experimentation, working closely and collaboratively with artists, musicians, curators, writers and producers to develop, realize and present innovative and challenging work in all media, ranging from installation to performance and from experimental music to radio theater. By engaging both the physical resources of its historical gallery space and ARTonAIR’s access to a broad and international online radio audience, the Clocktower is able to disseminate experimental work to numerous communities, and promote a rich cultural and social dialogue between artists, audiences, and institutions worldwide.
The Clocktower Gallery History
In the 1970s, Alanna Heiss emerged as a prominent figure of the alternative spaces movement. In 1971, she founded The Institute for Art and Urban Resources, which organized exhibitions in otherwise unused or overlooked spaces in New York. The Institute's first pioneering show, Under the Brooklyn Bridge, was organized by Heiss and Gordon Matta-Clark, and featured such artists as Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, and Dennis Oppenheim. In 1972 Heiss created the Clocktower Gallery, located on the top floor of a 19th Century McKim, Mead & White building in Lower Manhattan. Opening with inaugural solo shows with Joel Shapiro, Richard Tuttle, and James Bishop, the Clocktower quickly became a legendary space for exhibitions, installations, and performance art. In 1976, Heiss founded P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City, Queens, and the Clocktower became an auxiliary space for artist residencies and group shows of emerging artists.
In 2004, the space became the headquarters of P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center’s Art Radio WPS1.org, the world's first Internet art radio station. WPS1 produced hundreds of hours of curated programming from art fairs and festivals worldwide including the Venice Biennale, Art Basel Miami Beach, PERFORMA, and the Armory Show; featured a unique collection of music ranging from live recordings of the widely acclaimed P.S.1 summer Warm Up series to experimental music surveys; and partnered with numerous arts organizations to present recordings of public programs, events, performances, and radio profiles documenting the New York City cultural fabric.
In December 2008, Alanna Heiss left P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, negotiated a transfer of the Clocktower Gallery lease and WPS1 radio programs, and re-launched both under ARTonAIR.org. Since then, ARTonAIR has re-vitalized the Clocktower Gallery’s exhibition and artist residency program and substantially increased its radio production, with programs ranging from in-depth coverage of the New York arts and culture scene to cooking shows, experimental music shows, and curated playlists by renowned DJs, musicians and composers. In two years, ARTonAIR has more than tripled its online audience, and restored the Clocktower Gallery’s role in New York City culture by making it accessible to visitors from around the world.