On East Fourth, Art Gallery Makes Room for Nail Salon

photo(139)Laura Edwins

When Seolbin Park took over the tiny storefront next to her equally tiny East Fourth Street advertising and design firm in 2008, she invested $3,000 in converting the former barber shop into a modest art gallery. She planned to support the non-profit art space with the money she made at her day job next-door. But last August, she said, her landlord put a “Store for Rent” sign up in the window of SB D Gallery, and refused to take it down even as the gallery presented its annual 9/11 show in September. That month, Ms. Park was asked to surrender her keys.

Ms. Park kept her small office at 125 East Fourth Street, and was surprised when the next-door space (same address) sat vacant for five months. Tomorrow, it will reopen as a new incarnation of Ultra Nail Beauty Salon, formerly at 123 Essex Street. The owner, Isabel Arauz, told The Local she had worked in nail salons on the Lower East Side for the past 15 years.

Ms. Park, who said she pays $3,700 per month for her office space and has never missed a rent payment, said that she and her landlord had agreed that if she renovated the adjacent space, he would let her use it rent-free until he found another tenant. “I feel very deceived and I think that it’s very disrespectful,” she said, referring to the space’s months-long vacancy. “We put so much money in and then at some point [the landlord] just changed his mind randomly.” The Local was not able to reach the landlord, Lucky Cashew LLC.

UntitledDaniel Maurer SB D Design, right; former gallery, left.

An East Village resident of 22 years, the gallerist said that she has shown the work of many neighborhood artists (The Local wrote about Terry Galmitz’s “My East Village” in October of 2010). She’s still debating whether she’ll start hosting shows in her halved space or find new digs. “There are such wonderful artists in this neighborhood and their dream is to just share their work. My only dilemma is the space, because the space is so small,” she said, later adding, “I haven’t had a show since last September and I feel like I’m becoming empty in my soul.”

Asked whether she would stay in the neighborhood that so many other galleries have left during her time here, she said, “I think I will. I will.” After all, her company’s Website is ILoveEastVillage.com. She also maintains a personal blog, I Love East Village.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 22, 2012

An earlier version of this post misstated that Ms. Park paid $3,000 per month in rent for the adjacent gallery space; in fact, she paid $3,000 to renovate it as part of an agreement that would let her stay in the space rent-free until the landlord found a new tenant.