“When I got here, I found things that were in the back room were up against the front window,” Feuer said.
Tony Coll, the property manager for the building that includes Feuer’s gallery, as well as the Franklin Parrasch Gallery and the CRG Gallery (it is the former home of the Dia Center for the Arts), said that artworks aside, the storm caused damage to the building that would have to be dealt with before many of the galleries could get back to business.
“For starters, we have no power,” Coll said, “and there was potential damage to the electrical systems. We will also have to repair damage to interior walls and doors, and exterior glazing.”
He expected the costs for his building to be about $200,000.
Feuer was not alone in noting the force with which the overflowing Hudson filled space. Rachel Churner, who opened a gallery, Churner & Churner, a year and a half ago, said that water rushed so violently into her basement storage that it tore shelves and cabinets from the walls and piled them up at one end of the space, destroying work that had been put in waterproof boxes and bags and put on high shelves.
“We must have had at least five feet of water in the basement,” Churner said. “To be honest with you, we’re not even sure yet what happened down there.”
“There’s a lot of stuff that’s just not going to be salvageable,” she said, adding that among the pieces destroyed were works from her own collection. “The fury of the water was tremendous. We were definitely caught off guard.”
Like most other galleries, hers will remain closed at least until the power comes back on and probably for many days after that.
“Then we’ll start our mammoth insurance claim and try to go from there,” Churner said.
Larry Gagosian, the superdealer with galleries at three locations in Manhattan, said he had been coping with downed phone lines at his gallery on Madison Avenue and had not had a chance to visit his two Chelsea galleries.
“Thank goodness we had warning this was coming because we moved a lot of art high up on the walls before the storm,” he said.
One owner, Andrew Freiser of Fredericks & Freiser, said he felt lucky and noted that a border of electrical tape around his doors and windows had reduced the amount of water that got into the space.
“Who’d have thought?” he said, pointing to a four-foot water line on the outside of his door, and a one-foot water line just inside. “We were very lucky.”
Many galleries, like Elizabeth Dee, were trying to find locksmiths to help them get into their galleries, which were sealed shut behind powerless security gates. (Late Wednesday, workers were able to get into the gallery, where there was some water damage but none to art work, Dee said.)
And at least one business in the area, the nonprofit art book shop Printed Matter, has taken to Facebook in the hope of getting art fans to help in the business of cleaning and salvaging.
“The basement of Printed Matter was severely flooded during the hurricane,” a note on the store’s Facebook page said. “We could definitely use some extra pairs of hands if anyone is in the neighborhood and can spare a few hours to help.”