THE OWNER OF RED BANK’S DETOUR GALLERY SETS A COURSE FOR AN EXCITING (AND UNCHARTED) CULTURAL LANDSCAPE
It’s just enough of a step off the beaten path—really, just one short “best kept secret” block from the bustle of Broad Street—to justify the name. And for Kenneth Schwartz, there was only one possible name for his ambitious project in the heart of Red Bank; a place called Detour Gallery. Located at 24 Clay Street—for years, a seldom-noticed alleyway of warehouse facilities and backof- building parking lots—the newly established space has reintroduced the concept of a full-time,
forward-thinking art space to Red Bank that’s experienced a shedding of gallery facilities in recent years. A town in which many creative people have, by necessity, forged some creative opportunities for exposure with restaurants, hotels, hair salons and other local businesses.
For Schwartz, that enterprising spirit and relatively relaxed small-town pace are part and parcel of what makes the greater Red Bank area—the place he’s called home for over 45 years—such a beckoning canvas for emerging, talented artists. A veteran commercial property investor, restaurateur and businessman who found success in the high-octane automotive business, Schwartz divested himself of his World Jeep and Subaru dealerships in order to devote his energies to those endeavors about which he’s most passionate—prime among them the Detour Gallery, a place he describes as “where
I hang my hat these days…this is what I’m interested in.”
That passion for art (and the people who create it) is no newfound dalliance for the longtime collector and artist representative, who inaugurated the Detour space last August with a group show entitled “Culturedrone.” Among the painters featured in that exhibit was Holly Suzanne Rader, the summoner of “glittering heroines, imaginary crusaders and fearless female warriors” whose elegantly erotic collages were first seen by Schwartz on the walls of the Bridge Avenue salon Glen Goldbaum 72— following which the future gallery owner commissioned the “graffiti glam” artist to create a body of work that would form the foundation first solo-spotlight installation, “Killer Queen,” at Detour.
Divided into two main exhibition areas, the spacious 8,000 square foot Detour building has also hosted the occasional
fundraiser and function (a special Cancer Society event in honor of the late Broad Street business catalyst Larry Garmany is
scheduled there for May 13). But art remains very much the focus, and in the weeks and months to come the Clay Street space will offer a mid-March showcase of two young artists, a new early-spring group show, and an installation by Brooklyn-based millennial painter Michael Labua that kicks off a summer of solo exhibits on June 3.
Labua is just one of the many past-and-present, established and- emerging creatives whose works are on view at Detour
Gallery—a roster that ranges from 20th century icons like Warhol, Rauschenberg and Liechtenstein, to relative newcomers Willie Torbert and Ron Haywood Jones (himself the subject of a solo event that opens in July).
Also featured and promoted by Schwartz and his gallery staff (registrar Rune Egenes, sales/ marketing pro Toni Kilkeary) are
the noted street artist known as DAIN; the late photographer Tobias Batz; the Spanish painter Mar Marin—plus a pair of ageless talents in the 80-something “outsider” artist James Andrew Brown, and the 90-something “magical realist”
Ever the retail-grounded realist himself, Schwartz (who continues to maintain his stake in Neptune City’s World VW dealership) turns the sort of factors that can work against a suburban gallery into an advantage, with “pricing that’s
a lot less than what you’ll see in New York, L.A. or Miami…we’re selling lots of fabulous art, and without the New York overhead, since I own the building.”
Schwartz’s re-imagining of the Red Bank artscape doesn’t end at the Clay Street structure, either. Scheduled to open around the end of March is Detour Framing, a 5,000 square foot site (at 131 Drs. James Parker Boulevard, formerly home to the Stair Shop) that’s been purchased and extensively renovated by the art aficionado into an up-to-date facility that will serve the gallery, its regular customers, and client artists.
Even with all that on the agenda, the most amazing activity is yet to come, as work is set to commence in a few months on “a massive art and cultural project” centered at a onetime barracks (recently purchased by Schwartz) on the Eatontown grounds of the former Fort Monmouth. Plans call for the “great and structurally sound” building to be refurbished into rented studio space for dance companies, music and theatrical studios— as well as for the development of a sculpture park on an adjacent two-acre plot of land.
“Within a few years you’ll see 30,000 people living and working at the Fort…it’s going to be like a fantastic little
city,” says the visionary Schwartz. “Red Bank will also continue to grow...we’ll see major things going on
right here at the end of Clay Street...and we’re very happy to have played a part in making that happen.”