Tag Archive | Installation

Gem Spa Bodega Transforms Into a schitibank

Gem Spa Schitibank
All Photos By Gail

If you’ve passed by Gem Spa, the legendary East Village bodega that is home to the city’s Best Egg Cream (#BestEggCream) at any point since September 11th of this year, you may have done a double, or even a triple take. We know that St. Mark’s Place has become increasingly gentrified, but is Gem Spa now a bank, or wait, what is going on here, exactly?

Gem Spa Schitibank

While it has been rumored that a citibank is slated to take over the corner lot which has been home to  Gem Spa since 1957, fear not: this an art installation meant to draw attention to, but also satirize, the phenomenon known as “Disappearing New York.” It isn’t very pretty.

Disclaimer text running across the bottom of the sign above reads:

schitibank has kept the historical appeal to this building to absorb their customer base. This schiti location is not affiliated with any other schiti locations. We don’t mean to gentrify, as schitibank is co-opting this space with Gem Spa to bring you an authentic banking, egg cream and vaping experience. Every customer is on surveillance cameras. Smile, you’re on camera.

Schitibank Storefront

The Gem Spa Schitibank installation is the work of Tommy Noonan and Doug Cameron of boutique marketing firm DCX Growth Accelerator, who are known for their ‘Artisanal’ publicity stunts (Google them and be very impressed).

Gem Spa Schitibank
Click Image to Enlarge So You Can Read the Fine Print!

God is definitely in the details here. Promotional posters for the ‘bank’s’ various perks and services include artwork by Robert Mapplethorpe as well as the likenesses of The New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.

Gem Spa Schitibank
Click Image to Enlarge for Detail

Gem Spa Schitibank

Gem Spa Schitibank Exterior

We clearly do not need another bank in the village (or anywhere in NYC, for that matter) but we do need a cool bodega that’s been around forever, and we need our delicious egg creams! Gem Spa is located at the southwest corner of 2nd Avenue and St. Mark’s Place. Drop in and drop some cash next time you’re in the hood. Better yet, make a special trip to visit, so you can see the schitibank installation before they take it down!

Gem Spa Schitibank

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Eye On Design: Atlantic Crossing Dining Installation By David Scott Interiors for Roche Bobois

David Scott Interiors for Roche Bobois
All Photos By Gail

As promised, here’s another one of my favorite Dining By Design Installations from this year’s DIFFA event, as David Scott Interiors and renowned international luxury furniture brand Roche Bobois invite guests to an elemental dining experience aboard a luxury liner cruising the Atlantic.

Roche Bobois Seating Area

Thoughtfully crafted for modern entertaining, an ambient seating area splashed with hues of ocean blue and warm sunshine yellow transitions to a dining area evoking natural light reflecting onto wave-like water formations.

Roche Bobois Window Seat

A window seat provides the perfect perch to overlook a natural wonder in the water with Zaria Forman (@zarialynn)’s video artwork titled Ode to an Iceberg, fearing video filmed by Forman in Whale Bay, Antartica (courtesy of Winston Wächter Fine Art). While guests cruise along, similarly to artists’ hands, the wind and water sculpt the icebergs into unimaginable melting shapes.

Iceberg Lamp Detail

The unique installation features Roche Bobois’ iconic pieces such as the Bubble armchairs, Edito  lounge chair, Ava Bridge chairs, Voiles Dining Table and Nonette floor lamps. Architectural lighting is provided by Orsman Design and tabletop arrangements are provided courtesy of Nikko Ceramics and Les Ateliers Courbet with floral arrangements by Mark Rose Events.

Roche Bobois Dining Table

“Our design was driven by the sculptural quality of the pieces selected from the Roche Bobois collections,” says designer, David Scott. “The visual strength of the brilliant yellow Bubble chair and the dramatic shape and finish of the Voiles dining table is a striking pairing. Song Wen Zhong’s Ava Bridge clear dining chair is the perfect nod to Zaria Forman’s video piece . They look like they could melt away right in front of your eyes!”

Roche Bobois is proud to support DIFFA in its continuous efforts to fight the misconceptions and judgements against HIV/AIDS,” says Jennifer Barre, National Marketing Director for Roche Bobois. “We couldn’t be happier to have partnered with the amazing team of David Scott Interiors. They really brought a storytelling dimension to the space.”

Daniel Rozin Cracked Mud at Bitforms Gallery

Cracked Mud Still Full
All Photos and Video By Gail

It wasn’t until the very last day of the exhibit that I made it over to Bitforms Gallery to check out Israeli-American artist Daniel Rozin’s 3-piece interactive show, Sol. To be honest, I was most interested in a piece that everyone seemed to be writing about, a kinetic sculpture/installation called Cracked Mud (2019), which mimics the cracked surface of a dry river bed, stretched out under a glowing sun-like orb.

Cracked Mud Still 2

According to the exhibit press release, “the effects of climate change are causing lakes to warm faster than the oceans and air, leading to a vast increase of dried riverbeds. Cracked Mud emulates this environment with a large-scale floor installation that takes over most of the gallery space.

Cracked Mud Still 6

A barren landscape illuminated by a glowing sun is suddenly transformed into dynamic, undulating motion by sensors that transmit the observer’s gestures into gradual ripples across the ceramic landscape.

Check Out My Video, Below:

The work performs as both an interactive and generative experience through programmed periods of activity. Although the artwork is intrinsically mechanical, the rippling effect gracefully echoes the fluidity of nature. Rozin’s ceramic fragments marry the handmade qualities of natural materials with the exactitude of kinetic technology.”

It was very fun and cool to watch the “Mud” react to my movements as I walked around the installation, and the gallery was empty while I shot the video so, except for a slight cough off-screen from the gallery docent, it was nice and quiet as well.

Cracked Mud Still 3

Cracked Mud Still 4

Somos 11 Millones / We Are 11 Million On The High Line

We Are 11 Million
Photo By Gail

Andrea Bowers is a Los Angeles-based artist working in video, drawing, and installation that combines art and activism in order to draw attention to the struggle for social justice. For the High Line, Bowers presents a continuation of her ongoing work supporting the DREAMers, individuals who came to the United States at an early age without documentation, who have assimilated to U.S. culture, and who have been educated in the U.S. School system.

Here’s what the sign looks like at night.

We Are 11 Million

The message is written in Spanish on one side and in English on the other.

Somos 11 Millones

Bowers invited the immigration activist group Movimiento Cosecha to write a slogan in support of DREAMers, realized as a neon sign reading “Somos 11 Millones / We Are 11 Million,” which is the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Part of the Agora Project, Installed on The High Line (Under the Standard Hotel) Through March of 2019.

Eureka By Brian Tolle at Federal Hall

Eureka Installation View
All Photos By Gail

Eureka is the name of this 40-foot tall  monumental sculpture, which depicts a rippling and distorted façade of a 17th century Dutch Canal House (paying homage to 40 years of Dutch rule in New York). Originally created by artist Brian Tolle for curatror Jan Hoet’s city-wide exhibition, Over the Edges (2000), in Ghent, Belgium, its representation in Federal Hall blurs the site’s architectural and political history with the contemporary in the conceptual artwork. Previously, the sculpture was on display at C24 Gallery in Chelsea as part of Tolle’s February 2018 exhibit, Bent.

Eureka Installed at C24 Gallery
Eureka Installed at C24 Gallery

The sculpture’s ripped appearance is meant to emulate the building’s rippled reflection in the flowing waterway that it borders.

Eureka Panoramic View

Tolle describes Eureka as “a sculptural play with illusion — a facade of a facade. Its Dutch-inspired form points to New York’s early history and its fluid, but troubled transformation from a Dutch seat of power to a British colony, to an American platform for diversity and democracy.” It’s sad to think that there are so many serious threats to that democracy right now. While you’re checking out Eureka, be sure to tour the rest of Federal Hall and see the various historical items on exhibit.

Federal Hall Exterior View
Statue of George Washington with Wall Street and The Stock Exchange as Seen From the Entrance to Federal Hall.

Federal Hall

Eureka Brochure

Brian Tolle’s Eureka will be on Display Through September 8th, 2018 at Federal Hall National Memorial, Located at 26 Wall Street (Across from the Exchange) in the Financial District, NYC.

Yes, It Exists: A NYC Loft Apartment Filled With Dirt

New York Earth Room
Photo By John Cliett Courtesy of the Dia Art Foundation

Do you like discovering weird stuff in NYC that hardly anybody else seems to know about? I sure do. A couple of years ago, Geoffrey told me about a visit he made to an art installation in SoHo which consisted of one loft apartment filled, wall-to-wall, with a waist-high layer of dirt. And I was like, “That sounds pretty weird.” Then I basically forgot all about it, until earlier this week, when I was looking for a way kill an hour between leaving the office and attending an art opening. The gallery I was going to just happened to be located around the corner from what I had been referring to as The Dirt Apartment, which is officially called the New York Earth Room, so I decided to check it out.

NY Earth Room Sign
Photo By Gail

The Earth Room is located on the second floor of an otherwise nondescript building on a block mostly occupied by prohibitively expensive designer clothing boutiques, and you have to be buzzed in from the street. A sign in the lobby tells you to walk one floor up the narrow stairs to reach your desired destination, and then you really can’t miss it. There’s a small reception area at the far end, with the viewing area of the Earth Room just past the entrance, on your right. When you first enter the space, it feels like you are in a sauna: hot, humid, almost stifling — but, despite the obvious lack of air-conditioning, the docent on duty, Brian, who was wearing a wool sweater, told me that after being in the room for a few minutes, it actually starts to feel cold in there. I was skeptical, but he was right.

The Earth Room is a loft space that spans half a city block. There are two support columns piercing the soil to your left and you can see windows on both sides of the loft. The windows on the right face Wooster Street, and ones on the left probably face a courtyard or airshaft. There’s a small, separate room directly across from the viewing area. The dirt is restrained by a Plexiglas barrier

What does it smell like in there? It smells like the earth.

Some Statistical Background:

The New York Earth Room (1977) is the third Earth Room sculpture executed by the artist Walter De Maria (1935 – 2013), the first being in Munich, Germany in 1968. The second was installed at the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt, Germany in 1974. The first two works no longer exist.

How Much Dirt Is in This Room:

250 cubic yards of earth (197 cubic meters)
3,600 square feet of floor space (335 square meters)
22 inch depth of material (56 centimeters)
Total weight of sculpture: 280,000 lbs. (127,300 kilos)

Brian was very enthusiastic about answering all of my questions and he explained that the space was formerly a commercial gallery, where the Earth Room was created as a regular exhibit. Somehow, the gallery owner decided to donate the loft  to the Dia Art Foundation so that the work could remain on long-term installation (or something like that. I am likely omitting many details). The New York Earth Room has been on long-term view to the public since 1980. This work was commissioned and is maintained by Dia Art Foundation.

The New York Earth Room is a work of art meant to be viewed, not entered. You are asked to not touch the dirt. Photography is not permitted, in accordance with wishes of the Artist.

Another interesting fact: the caretaker, Bill Dilworth, has taken care of the dirt for 28 years. The dirt is watered on a regular basis, and churned, so that the soil looks fresh.

You may not think that many people want to visit a loft apartment filled with dirt, but you would be incorrect. Brian told me that I was the 100th person to visit on that day, and most days there many more visitors.  I am not fronting when I suggest that being in the Earth Room may inspire you to engage in deep contemplation of the meaning of life and the existence of all things. I am now in love this exhibit and can’t wait to visit again many times. Earth Room!

The New York Earth Room is Located at 141 Wooster Street (Between Prince and Houston), 2nd Floor, SoHo, New York City. Hours are Wednesday – Sunday, 12–6 PM (closed from 3–3:30 PM). The New York Earth Room closes for the summer on Sunday, June 17th, 2018. It will reopen on Wednesday, September 12th, 2018. The installation is also closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Admission is Free.

Happy New Year 2018 From NYC!

New Years Eve Tile
Photos By Gail

Ceramic sculptor Toby Buonagurio, the studio coordinator and sculpture director of Stony Brook’s Department of Art, is known for her colorful ceramic sculptures and innovative designs. The New York New Year’s Eve tile above is part of  Times Square Times: 35 Times,  a permanent public artwork commissioned from Buonagurio by the MTA Arts for Transit. It is permanently installed in illuminated presentation windows embedded in the shiny new glass block station walls throughout the Times Square – 42nd Street Subway Station in the heart of New York City. The artworks are owned by the MTA New York City Transit.

Times Square Times: 35 Times is comprised of 35 unique, one of a kind sculptural ceramic reliefs created by the artist over five years. The work may be viewed in the Times Square – 42nd Street Subway Station along the 7th Avenue Passage, the 41st Street Corridor, the Broadway Mezzanine and the Subway Entrance at 42nd Street. The station is open to the public twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Times Square Times: 35 Times is routinely viewed by more than half a million subway riders daily.

Buonagurio’s project was conceived around three characteristic, conceptual themes emblematic of the energetic vibrancy of Times Square: Performing Arts, Fashion and Street Life – the people, the places, the things – readily recognizable to the average, everyday visitor, not matter where they are from.

Happy New Year, Everyone! Let’s Make 2018 the Best Year Ever!

New Years Eve Tile Installation Viiew
Installation Detail