More and more stores are closing. (â€œMore Manhattan Shop Windows Are Expected to Be Empty This Year,â€New York Times) More and more artists have seen the market for their work collapse. (â€œBrother, Can You Spare A Painting,â€ Newsweek) A group of artists and curators looked at these two problems and thought up an ambitious new art project; as curator Manon Slome puts it â€œlet’s fill these empty spaces with art so that they are NO LONGER EMPTY but full of life and creativity.â€
No Longer Empty was born.
Their first exhibition will run in the two emptied storefronts at the Chelsea Hotel, renowned birthplace of punk and 2001: A Space Odyssey, deathplace of writer Dylan Thomas and Sid Vicious’s girlfriend, residences for Eugene O’Neill and Jimi Hendrix alike (sometimes only for a few days). It was also, until recently, the location of a long-time fish tackle store and a tattoo parlor.
Opening on Thursday, June 18th at 6 p.m., the first No Longer Empty exhibition will run exactly a month.
Alina and Jeff Bliumis, whose work has been exhibited everywhere from the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art to the Andrea Meislin Gallery in New York, plan a site-specific installation they will entitle â€œTips for Future Occupantsâ€, each tip/statistic/lesson placed in a â€œbookâ€ that is really a sculpture made from foam, ink acrylic and wood.
Raimundo Rubio will create one of his salt-encrusted installations of everyday objects – cell phones, jewelry, flowers etc.
The exhibition will also include work by artists currently living in the Chelsea Hotel — Rita Barros, Linda and Lothar Troeller, and Sam Bassett.
This is just the start, says Slome. They are currently negotiating with several more landlords. If all goes well, “visitors will enliven the streets, use local restaurants etc and the buildings will be seen in their full potential. Artists will be given a great new platform for their work in what we hope will become a new paradigm for public art.â€
There is precedent for their idea. Chashama, a non-profit created by Anita Durst of the Durst real estate family, has been doing something similar since 1992, providing grants to visual and theater artists and offering them temporarily vacant commercial properties for rehearsal, studio and/or performance spaces. (It has a permanent exhibition space at 217 East 42nd Street.)
The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Swing Space program awards artists and arts organizations the use of vacant commercial space downtown for up to six months, again for use as “studio, rehearsal, office, installation, and exhibition space.” Storefront art is also happening elsewhere, such as Northampton, Massachusetts.
The complete list of artists whose work will appear in the first “No Longer Empty” exhibition:
Guido Albi-Marini, Joseph Aloi, Rita Barros, Sam Bassett, Michael Bevilacqua, Alina and Jeff Bliumis, Scott Campbell, Tara de la Garza, Noel Hennessy, Diana Puntar, Bruce Richards, Raimundo Rubio, Linda and Lothar Troeller, Dani Tull, Marnie Weber, Bruce Richards, Scott Campbell
by Raimundo Rubio
by Alina and Jeff Bliumis.