By Stephanie Meditz
The corner of 60th Lane and Catalpa Avenue was closed to the public until Eric Oglander transformed it to share his passion for art with the Ridgewood community.
The 34-year-old artist and collector opened the shop, “tihngs,” last month, where he sells various relics from his own collection dating back to the 18th century.
Artifacts in the store include but are not limited to photographs, sculptures, jugs, bowls, chairs, repurposed items, and even pieces whose original purpose is unclear.
Oglander prizes history, utility, and uncertainty in the pieces he collects. The works that most appeal to him are not necessarily the most beautiful ones, but the ones that reflect their creator’s humanity and leave the viewer asking questions.
“I really love one-off, unusual objects. I love objects that were made out of necessity or happenstance,” Oglander said.
“And then there are things that take a little bit of explaining. This might just look like a clay bust of a head, but this is actually an end-of-day piece,” he said while picking up the artifact. “This is made at a brick factory. So at the end of the day, one of the factory workers would have sculpted this out of the brick clay and fired it.”
Oglander started buying and selling artifacts at the age of 18.
He first started dealing art for profit, but as the son of artists and an artist himself, he fell in love with many of the pieces he came across.
After accumulating an abundance of beloved pieces, Oglander recognized the need to part with some of them.
“A lot of this stuff was in my apartment and they were keepers,” he said. “They were things that I was not going to sell because they made a lot of sense in my collection. But now, doing the store, I decided to make them available.”
Six years ago, he started an Instagram account, @tihngs, to showcase his most interesting pieces. The account boasts 26.2k followers.
His carefully curated aesthetic and strong social media presence connected him to people who shared his artistic interests.
This community of artists, curators, collectors, and lovers of history became part of his niche market for art dealing.
Oglander hopes to expand his clientele to include the Ridgewood community, especially since its location had not previously been open to the public.
When he moved to Ridgewood five years ago, Oglander was already interested in the property on the corner of 60th Lane and Catalpa Avenue.
Contrary to the popular neighborhood belief, the building’s paper-covered windows did not mean that it was abandoned.
“It’s been used as an art studio for 10-ish years,” Oglander said. “So it was so fun taking the paper down and washing the windows. The response was pretty remarkable. I think people were a little blown away.”
For Oglander, opening “tihngs” to the public did not undermine the space’s prior use as a private art studio.
He works on his own small-scale, minimalist sculptures in his studio, which is situated behind the shop.
Oglander’s artwork has been featured in several exhibitions at Patrick Parrish Gallery in Lower Manhattan.
In addition to owning his business and practicing his own art, Oglander works for sculptor Robert Gober in Manhattan.
Originally from Nashville, Oglander has lived in New York for eight years. Before calling Ridgewood home, he lived in Prospect Heights, Lefferts Gardens, and Bushwick.
One of his favorite things about living in New York is the diversity promoted by the five boroughs.
“Just being amongst so many different walks of life, it’s just so refreshing to me,” he said.
By sharing his collection with the Ridgewood community, Oglander hopes to inspire in others the same sense of wonder he feels when he finds a fascinating object.
He encourages people to visit the shop by appointment or on select Saturdays.
“I just kind of hope to expose people to stuff they’ve never seen before,” he said. “I’m usually finding things I’ve never seen before, so I want people to come in and kind of experience the same curiosity.”