Bernice Steinbaum Gallery was founded in New York in 1977. Feminism and the Civil Rights Movement had effected change, but there was still a long way to go. Women and people of color were still underrepresented and undervalued in every area of the art world. Refusing a “separate but equal” model of representation, Steinbaum’s mission was to exhibit artists working with narrative, while maintaining a roster of 50% women and 40% artists of color. The gallery opened on Madison Avenue, and later moved to 132 Green St. in SoHo.
In 2000, Steinbaum moved the gallery to Miami, Florida. Hers was the first commercial gallery in the yet-undeveloped area of Wynwood. With its new location, the gallery’s mission shifted. While in New York, the indoor spaces of a gallery was a welcome oasis from the weather and bustle outside. In Miami, Steinbaum was impressed by the fact that the city competed with nature for the public’s attention. Her attention turned to the future of the natural world, and the many threats to it that human endeavors pose. She sought out artists engaging with environmental themes and working with found or repurposed materials. Given the role of technology and globalization in both causing and countering environmental issues, she also developed an interest in artists pursuing similar themes in their work.
In 2014 the gallery in Wynwood was closed. Steinbaum continued to work from her home, while planning a new gallery space on her property in Coconut Grove. The new gallery opened January 7, 2017 with the exhibition “Threads of Connection.”