Peter Surace founded RARE Gallery to help shape, nurture, and promote the careers of emerging visual artists who had not yet widely exhibited. After 17 years, his mission remains constant. While many of the gallery’s artists have benefited from extensive international exposure and have been included in prestigious museum shows and collections, Peter makes room in the schedule every season for artists new to the marketplace. RARE was the first gallery to open in the heart of Manhattan’s historic meatpacking district, where it remained for five years before relocating to Chelsea in 2003. It has occupied its present space at 547 West 27th Street since 2009.
Peter seeks out artists whose work meets the following criteria: (1) The work must be directly connected to the artists’ life experiences, particularly in terms of their most formative years; (2) the processes and materials utilized must be atypical, unusual, or unique, and not for the sake of mere virtuosity, but rather for the purpose of amplifying content; (3) the artists’ craftsmanship must be evident in the work and part of its visual appeal – in other words, the creators’ hand must be present. Slick work will not pass Peter’s litmus test; and (4) the final result must be sincere in its intentions – sincerity takes precedence over irony and art about art, at least for him.
Within a year of becoming a member of the New York State Bar in 1984 (after obtaining his JD degree from Fordham University School of Law), Peter embarked on a career in public relations and sports marketing that lasted for more than a decade. Drawn to the arts for as long as he can remember, thanks to encouraging and tolerant parents, he opened RARE in 1998.