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Wall to Wall
By Jessie Sardina | Photo: Anthony Tahlier | July 14, 2016
Contemporary art maven Monique Meloche lives just a few blocks away from her eponymous gallery—but her home is where it all started.
Despite popular advice, gallerist Monique Meloche has no interest in leaving work at the office. When she locks the doors of her namesake Ukrainian Village gallery and makes the short jaunt home, it’s quite possible her evening plans will include whipping up a meal for a visiting artist staying in her guest bedroom, or cozying up next to husband Evan Boris on the couch to discuss their next acquisition. In fact, it was in the same house the couple still calls home where Meloche first launched her gallery in 2000. The debut exhibition, aptly titled Homewrecker, featured work from 30 artists hung over all three floors of the newly purchased house—the exhibit even featured a video installation presented on the couple’s bedroom television. “It was supposed to be a one-month show,” recalls Boris. “Three months later, I’d come back from the gym about to throw my sweaty clothes off, and there’d be two people in my bedroom like, ‘How are you today?’”
Now, more than 15 years later, Meloche’s Division Street gallery, Monique Meloche Gallery, hosts the real exhibitions, but to any contemporary art fan, the couple’s home, which displays just a portion of their personal collection (more of it is on loan to museum exhibitions), would provide equal intrigue. The pair owns at least one piece from each of the artists Meloche represents—a roster that includes stars like Rashid Johnson and Ebony G. Patterson, along with more than 15 in-demand names. “All of the artists that I exhibit [in the gallery] are my own selections,” says Meloche. “Clearly, I love them, I want to support them. I want to live with them.”
From a glowing pink neon “THUG” sign by Johnson hanging in their foyer to a giant sculptural site-specific outdoor installation featuring rebar-threaded garden hoses by Justin Cooper in their backyard, the couple’s home is an expert lesson in how to live with art.
Case in point: Some collectors would shudder at the idea of hanging a piece anywhere near harm’s way, but Meloche and Boris were thrilled to install a recently acquired sprawling glittering collaged painting by Patterson in their living room, a high-traffic spot where party guests can admire it between turns at the couple’s heirloom pool table. “Not everyone who visits is a very good pool player, so everything near the table is behind Plexiglas,” says Boris.
While the couple’s personal style turns toward midcentury furnishings and minimal accessories, it’s the art that takes center stage. “We tend to like a very clean palette, but really brash art,” says Meloche, whose gallery is known for its exhibition of evocative, eye-catching works. To wit: In the kitchen, an almost wall-size Jason Middlebrook watercolor depicting Michael Heizer’s famous Nevada earthwork melting into colorful abstraction is hung opposite one of the first of Johnson’s famous African soap and black wax altar-like sculptures exploring black identity.
And while the couple’s collection has grown significantly since they got married, they have a strict policy on unanimous agreement when it comes to making a purchase. “Through the years, it’s become oddly apparent that we are so on the same track,” says Meloche. “It’s very unusual for one of us to really like something and the other not,” adds Boris.
What do they have their eyes on next? A colorful large-scale portrait by Amy Sherald—the painter featured in the gallery’s upcoming solo exhibition. “However, we’ve got a waiting list for the work, and the demand is too high,” says Meloche. “I haven’t been able to sell myself one!” A dealer’s dilemma, indeed.