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Thread: New Museum of Contemporary Art - 235 Bowery - by SANAA

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    Default New Museum of Contemporary Art - 235 Bowery - by SANAA

    May 15, 2003

    'Under the Radar' Museum Plans New Home on the Bowery


    As the proposed grand architectural projects of the 1990's fade from the horizon — the Whitney, the Guggenheim and Lincoln Center have all backed off ambitious plans by world-famous architects over the past few months — one modest museum is trying not to appear smug as it chugs determinedly forward.

    The trustees of the New Museum of Contemporary Art announced yesterday that they had chosen an architect to build a new home on the Bowery that they hope will eventually stand for the next big thing. "We resisted the temptation to go with a big name right now," said Lisa Phillips, the director of the museum. "It's not what we're about. We're an under-the-radar institution committed to discovery and risk taking."

    The architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA in Tokyo were selected in a limited competition that involved five firms deemed by insiders to be among the most promising younger talent at work in Japan, Spain, Switzerland, Britain and the United States. The others considered were Reiser & Umemoto RUR Architecture of Manhattan, Adjaye Associates of London, Abalos & Herreros of Madrid and Gigon & Guyer of Zurich.

    Anthony Vidler, dean of the Cooper Union School of Architecture, said in an e-mail message that the New Museum had made "a magnificent choice." He said that Ms. Sejima, the principal architect, "has taken the tradition of modernist minimalism and typical plans, as developed by someone like Mies van der Rohe, and joined it to the tradition of the precise and elegant use of materials, to continue the tradition of `transparency' in an entirely new form."

    The $35 million museum is to be built at a site that is now a parking lot between Stanton and Rivington streets. With 60,000 square feet, it will double the size of the present museum, now housed in a patchwork of condominiums on Broadway near Prince Street. Financing is to come from a capital campaign and from the sale of those condominiums.

    Ms. Phillips said that a Chelsea site was briefly contemplated but dismissed because access to public transportation was too distant, and because Chelsea had "already exceeded critical mass." What's more, she said, after the Sept. 11 attacks the museum decided it was important to remain in Lower Manhattan.

    Ms. Sejima and Mr. Nishizawa are better known in Europe and Asia than in the United States, where their first commission, an addition for the famed glass collection of the Toledo Art Museum in Ohio, is under construction. Known for instilling a minimalist aesthetic with an inner glow, they have also developed the prototype for the Prada cosmetic stores. The Contemporary Art Museum in Kanazawa, Japan, and a shop for Chrisian Dior in Tokyo are being built. In addition to several museums, homes and two pachinko parlors in Japan, they are now completing the design for an extension to the Institute of Modern Art in Valencia, Spain.

    James Polshek, the Manhattan architect of the Rose Center for Earth and Space and an adviser to the New Museum selection committee, said Ms. Sejima's work was "surgically precise but poetic."

    But the winning design for the new museum will not be shown until it has been completed next fall. In an interview last week Ms. Phillips spoke about not wanting to court the kind of disappointment that inevitably results when fancy models decked out in the highest hopes are announced to great trumpeting, only to be shelved or altered beyond recognition afterward.

    The shouts that went up in the press about Daniel Libeskind's adjusting details for his designs at the World Trade Center site are only the most recent instance of the phenomenon. "I just didn't want to go there," Ms. Phillips said.

    She did say that the architects were asked to be creative in the use of recycled materials as well as to provide high column-free spaces and plenty of natural light.

    Others on the selection committee provided a few more salient details of the winning design. Mr. Polshek described a composition of stacked boxes reminding him of the gritty shipping containers along the New Jersey Turnpike, only here rendered into something beautiful.

    Richard Gluckman, the architect of the Dia Center for the Arts in Chelsea and also an architectural adviser to the New Museum, said he had been impressed by how the boxes were staggered in such a way as to make the building appear "to obliterate" the zoning requirements for setbacks while actually staying within the code. The unusual composition, he said, also allowed for natural light to pour in without having to resort to transparent walls. And that could be a benefit on the famously down-at-heel Bowery.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

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    Default New Museum of Contemporary Art

    Well thats good news. *At least projects involving the arts are still going to happen. *The news with the City's Museums have been quite dim in the past few months with all the museums cancelling plans for additions and/or renovations etc....

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    Default New Museum of Contemporary Art

    For Immediate Release


    Acclaimed Designers Will Create First Major Art Museum Building in Downtown Manhattan

    New York, NY (May 15, 2003)-The Board of Trustees of the New Museum of Contemporary Art announced today that noted avant-garde architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the Tokyo-based partnership SANAA Ltd., have been chosen to design the institution's new building on the Bowery. The commission, which marks the culmination of a two-and-a-half year international search process, will result in the first major art museum constructed in downtown Manhattan in the city's modern history.

    Sejima and Nishizawa, widely considered the most original and influential of a new generation of Japanese practitioners, will create a state-of-the-art, multiple-use $35 million facility for the New Museum on the site of what is now an 8,000 square foot parking lot at 235 Bowery, between Stanton and Rivington Streets at the beginning of Prince Street. Plans call for a 60,000 square-foot facility that will double the size of the New Museum's current quarters at 583 Broadway in Soho. In addition to dramatically increased, flexible exhibition space, the Bowery facility will offer an innovative new media center, a black box theater, bookstore, expanded classrooms, study center, and a café.

    The SANAA Ltd. design for the New Museum will be unveiled in Fall 2003. Construction is expected to begin in Summer 2004, with an early 2006 building opening projected.

    Saul Dennison, President of the Board of Trustees of the New Museum, said, "Downtown Manhattan has been home to generations of artists from around the world. With SANAA Ltd., we intend to take a leadership role in the revitalization of this great and storied district, and affirm New York's enduring role as the world's most international, dynamic and accessible cultural capital. Our building on the Bowery will firmly establish the New Museum as the premier contemporary arts destination in the City. With it, the Museum will provide a singular gathering place for the public and continue to be a resource for the City's creative and intellectual community."

    "It is particularly exciting that after more than 25 years of presenting the best of contemporary art and engaging the community of artists internationally, we will create a building that is both a superb facility for programs and a significant work of contemporary art in itself," said Lisa Philips, Henry Luce III Director of the New Museum. "In keeping with the New Museum's mission and spirit, we have chosen a younger firm that, while not yet well known in the United States, is quite established in the design and construction of outstanding public facilities and experienced in addressing urban settings. Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa are at the forefront of their generation, concerned with the same issues that pre-occupy artists working today, and deeply engaged in the priorities that will shape architecture and cities for many years to come. We are delighted and honored that they will design a new building for the New Museum, for artists, and for the public."

    The Architects
    Kazuyo Sejima, 47, and Ryue Nishizawa, 37, have received accolades internationally for work that is luminous and minimal in its aesthetics; sophisticated in its treatment of complex building detail and fluid, non-hierarchical space; and highly original in its use of exterior facades as permeable membranes that establish subtle but provocative relationships between interior and exterior, individual and community, and the realms of public and private experience. In Japan, the firm has completed numerous critically acclaimed commercial and institutional buildings, community centers, homes and museums. Among these are two jewel-like private museum buildings -- the O Museum in Nagano (1999) and the N Museum in Wakayama (1997), and the Day-Care Center in Yokohama (2000). Sejima also designed the celebrated Small House in Tokyo (2000). SANAA Ltd. is currently building the Contemporary Art Museum in Kanazawa, Japan, and an addition to the Valencia Institute of Modern Art (IVAM) in Spain.

    The architects have worked collaboratively in the partnership of SANAA Ltd. since 1995. Sejima studied architecture at the Japan Women's University before going to work for the celebrated architect Toyo Ito. She launched her own practice in 1987 and was named Young Architect of the Year in Japan in 1992. Nishizawa studied architecture at Yokohama National University and, in addition to his work with Sejima, has maintained an independent practice since 1997.

    Commenting upon the New Museum commission, SANAA Ltd. stated, "We are pleased to be selected as the designers for such a unique project in New York City. It is most stimulating to conceive of a building for the art of our time, particularly at a moment when looking to the future seems a priority. The New Museum is a daring institution whose convictions relate very closely to our own, and we expect this project to be fascinating and satisfying. We hope the process will lead to a highly integrated public building that will in turn inspire further innovative thinking in design and art."

    Announcement of the New Museum's selection of SANAA Ltd. as architects for its new building marks the culmination of a two-and-a-half year international search process. During the summer of 2001, a Request for Qualifications was sent to over thirty firms worldwide. Over the past year, the New Museum organized a series of roundtable discussions on the subject of "Museums for the 21st Century," funded by the Norman and Rosita Winston Foundation. Architects, professionals in the field, members of the Board of Trustees, and staff were invited to explore a wide range of issues related to contemporary museum architecture.

    Following these roundtables and visits to several architectural firms, the Board Facility Planning Committee selected five international firms to submit preliminary design directions for the new New Museum: Abalos & Herreros of Madrid, Adjaye Associates of London, Gigon/Guyer of Zurich, Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA Ltd. of Tokyo, and Reiser + Umemoto RUR Architecture P.C. of New York City. With the support of architects Richard Gluckman and James Stewart Polshek, Design Consultants to the Selection Committee, the Committee conducted in-depth interviews with the candidates, and viewed completed buildings and other projects in order to arrive at their decision in late April 2003.

    About the New Museum of Contemporary Art
    Founded in 1977, the New Museum is the leading contemporary art museum in New York City and among the most respected internationally, with a curatorial program unrivaled in the United States in its global scope and adventurousness.

    Over the last five years, the Museum has organized exhibitions of emerging and established artists from Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, China, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, England, Germany, Poland, Spain, South Africa, and Turkey. These are combined with ambitious surveys of important but under-recognized American artists such as Faith Ringgold, Carolee Schneeman, David Wojnorowicz and Paul McCarthy. The Museum's Media Lounge, launched in November 2000, is the only museum space in New York City devoted to presenting digital art and experimental video from around the world.

    Iida, Nagano Prefecture, Japan 1995/1999
    photo: Hisao Suzuki

    Small House
    Tokyo, Japan 1999-2000
    photo: Hisao Suzuki

    Nakahechi, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan 1995/1997
    photo: Hisao Suzuki

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    September 30, 2003

    New Museum Joins Forces With Artists' Web Site


    In an unusual instance of an established cultural organization taking an upstart arts group under its wing, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in SoHo is forging a partnership with, an Internet site where digital artists can exhibit their online projects and crow about their status as art-world outsiders.

    In an arrangement announced last week, Rhizome will become officially affiliated with the New Museum. Rhizome's staff has already moved into the New Museum's offices at 583 Broadway, between Houston and Prince Streets, and the museum will provide Rhizome with accounting, clerical and other administrative services. The partnership will allow Rhizome to expand its activities and audience while giving the New Museum's curators access to a fresh crop of emerging artists.

    Lisa Phillips, the New Museum's director, said, "Our audience and Rhizome's audience will have the potential to cross over and know more about each other."

    In its last fiscal year Rhizome spent about $323,000. Ms. Phillips said the affiliation would reduce Rhizome's expenses in the current year by more than $100,000.

    But a digital-arts group and a museum, no matter how progressively minded, can make strange bedfellows. When digital artists began to create online artworks in the mid-1990's, much of the art form's energy was derived from the notion that the works did not need museums or galleries to reach an audience. Spawned by that sensibility in 1996, Rhizome quickly became one of the most popular Internet sites devoted to the digital arts. It is an online-only meeting place where members can announce new artworks, request technical assistance or argue over obscure aesthetic issues.

    As excitement about digital art spread, museums began to commission online artworks. After the dot-com boom went bust, though, museum interest cooled along with the economy. The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, for instance, dismissed its new-media curator earlier this year.

    As a result it is not clear whether the New Museum-Rhizome partnership can be viewed as a step in extracting Internet art from its tiny niche or as a life preserver for a floundering art form. Tim Whidden, a digital artist in Brooklyn and a longtime Rhizome contributor, said, "I'm wondering if it means a strengthening of new media, that is, it's being taken out of its ghetto and put into a larger art-world context, or a weakening, that is, it can't stand on its own legs."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

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    November 14, 2003


    Lunchbox for Art: A New Museum


    A digital rendering of the New Museum's Bowery building, designed by the Tokyo firm Saana.

    The New Museum of Contemporary Art wants to build a seven-story bento box for art on the Bowery. Plans and models for this deftly composed lunch break of a building are now on view in the museum's mezzanine gallery, at 583 Broadway, between Houston and Prince Streets in SoHo. Produced by Saana, a Tokyo firm, the design should please those who believe that art museums should be neutral containers. If executed with proper attention to detail, the building will also delight the Victorians among us who incline toward tender passion.

    It may seem odd to describe so minimalist a design as Victorian. It may be doubly odd to portray as tender a building that will be encased within tough galvanized zinc. Yet it was the Victorians who recognized the eloquence of the Crystal Palace, one of Minimalism's primary sources. And Minimalism's master, Mies van der Rohe, showed the world that industrial materials can be sweet.

    This legacy should be kept in mind when the issue of context comes up. Like every substantial building that has gone up in Manhattan in the past decade, Saana's design demonstrates the fecundity that occurs when the idea of context is distinguished from mere adjacency. Add to, rather than fit in with: this is the crux of the distinction. When a building is dedicated to contemporaneity, as the New Museum will be, the design should add to the present.

    Saana was chosen in April from a short list of younger, relatively unsung firms. These global talent hunts have become artworks in themselves, a genre of Arte Povera, perhaps, in which small struggling offices perform the function once played by hemp, rocks and other humble materials. "Feed me! Feed me!" The spectacle can be as heartbreaking as the death of Little Nell.

    Kazuyo Sejima, one of Saana's two principal partners, is not an unknown. A former associate of Toyo Ito and a protégé of Arata Isozaki, she has been much talked about on the international circuit in recent years. Mr. Isozaki launched her on the global stage in 2000, when he commissioned her to design an installation at the Japanese Pavilion for the Venice Architecture Biennale.

    Entitled "City of Girls," the project featured rows of plastic daisies planted in beds of white gravel and was intended to capture the flair of the Japanese techno-virgins who made the world safe for shopping magazines like Lucky. Knowingly or not, Ms. Sejima stepped into one of the privileged roles in architecture today: the foreigner who simultaneously affirms and deflates local notions of difference.

    The project's title and location invited visitors to project images of the feminine and the Asian onto its pure white surfaces. The plastic flowers allowed us to detect the universal in our omnipotent modernity and its discontents.

    In parts of Asia, it is said, the desirable is modern, the undesirable is Western. We in the West have often found our own modernity to be highly undesirable, however, and Saana's design can be seen as an expression of a continuing project to transform the aggressive energies of modern life into states of desire. Whatever Eastern qualities Saana has brought to the design, it is strongly rooted in the broad historical mainstream of contemporary New York.

    Designed by Ms. Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, the firm's other principal partner, the new New Museum will be on the Bowery, just opposite the intersection with Prince Street, which terminates there. This site will give the museum visual access to and from deepest SoHo, where the museum's cultural roots are planted. Though first situated on the Greenwich Village campus of the New School, which gave the institution its name, the New Museum has been integral to the transformation of the old industrial city into the culture factory that it is today.

    Saana's design encodes that history in urban space. Little lofts. Little SoHo lofts that died and went to heaven. That is one entrancing image that the museum's exterior brings to mind. The contemporary city is a search for the philosopher's stone capable of transforming rust into the life of the mind.

    Frankly, I was expecting the firm to produce a more transparent building envelope. Saana is noted for delicate, veil-like facades, and the museum has spoken of its desire to appear open to the neighboring community. So it is surprising to see that the museum's elevations use less glass than those of the Whitney. The opaque zinc-finished steel may take some getting used to.

    I'm prepared to like it immediately, however. There is more than one way to be open. We don't often see metal used as a light, reflective skin. With the moiré patterns that will glimmer across its galvanized surface, I expect that the skin will be nearly as veil-like as glass. This zinc plating really is that familiar, cheap silvery gray stuff air ducts are made of, a reminder that modern architecture is a form of industrial alchemy.

    The idea of openness is conveyed more emphatically by the shape of the building envelope, perhaps, than by its materials. Each of the building's seven floors is represented as a distinct rectangular box. These are stacked atop one another, in an off-axis composition, like a chest of partly open drawers. This arrangement allows variety in the size and proportions of each floor. It also creates setbacks that are used for open-air terraces and for skylights to naturally illuminate the galleries below. At night, the building's metallic exterior will be washed with artificial lighting from within.

    There are three main gallery floors, on the third, fourth and fifth levels. At least two of these will be connected by internal stairs. A vertical circulation core, of elevators and fire stairs, provides access throughout the building. The galleries are simple enclosures of space, treated as the luxury object that we in New York know space to be.

    As they do in Japan, only more so. This is perhaps where the Eastern quality of the design can be sensed. In Japan the cost of a building is only a fraction of that of the space on which it stands. Remember how, in SoHo, lofts used to be described as raw space? At the New Museum, the loftlike galleries are cool, fresh, immaculately sliced sashimi.

    One floor of offices, on the second level. A ground-floor cafe and bookshop. In the basement, a 200-seat auditorium and a media lounge. In the penthouse, party time! A square box of a space, including something called the Empire Bar, with wraparound terraces and views in all directions. Smaller galleries are tucked away throughout the museum. Happenstance encouraged.

    More than half the funds have been raised for a $35 million capital project that includes the cost of building the 60,000-square-foot structure. The museum hopes to begin construction next October, with an opening projected for the spring of 2006. Guggenheimer Architects of New York is Saana's associated local architect. The project architect is Florian Idenburg. Structural engineering is by the dashing and talented Guy Nordenson, without whose services few contemporary buildings would dare to rise.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

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    View onto building from the northwest side of Bowery between Houston and Prince Street.

    View looking east from Prince Street between Elizabeth Street and Bowery.

    In May 2003, the Board of Trustees of the New Museum of Contemporary Art announced the selection of the Tokyo-based firm Sejima + Nishizawa/SANAA to design the Museum's future home on the Bowery. The new location is very close to our current location on Broadway, and at the nexus of the dynamic neighborhood of Chinatown, Little Italy, Nolita, the East Village, and the Lower East Side. This architectural commission, which marks the culmination of a two-and-a-half-year international search and competition, will contribute significantly to the revitalization of downtown Manhattan and will result in the first art museum to be constructed downtown in over a century.

    Sejima and Nishizawa, the partners of SANAA, widely considered the most original and influential among a new generation of Japanese practitioners, will create a state-of-the-art, 60,000-square-foot facility for the Museum on the site of what is presently an 8,000-square-foot parking lot at 235 Bowery, at Prince Street. The new building will be twice the size of the current Museum at 583 Broadway in Soho. In addition to providing dramatically increased, flexible exhibition space, the Bowery facility will offer an innovative new media center, a black box theater, a bookstore, expanded classrooms, a study center, and a café.

    SANAA's concept for the site proposes a series of shifting "sculptural boxes" that allow for skylights on every level, each with a slightly different proportion and character. Their design demonstrates an efficient, elegant approach to the Museum's program needs as well as an innovative response to the zoning requirements of the site.

    Construction is expected to begin in fall 2004, with a projected opening date in spring 2006.

    Lobby. Street Level.

    Lobby. Street Level. View of café and lobby exhibition area.

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    July 25, 2004

    The New Museum's New Non-Museum


    The New Museum, temporarily homeless, has turned to outdoor art: Julianne Swartz's periscope-and-telephone installation "Can You Hear Me?" at the Sunshine Hotel.

    Marion Wilson's art-vendor's cart.

    WHAT does a museum do when it suddenly finds itself without a museum to live in?

    If it is the Museum of Modern Art, which has been homeless during its $850 million renovation on West 53rd Street, the answer is the art-world equivalent of an expensive New York real estate shuffle: purchase an apartment while your town house is being gutted. In the Modern's case, of course, the apartment was very pricey: it cost almost $30 million to buy and convert a former staple factory in Queens into an exhibition space to use for only a couple of years.

    So when the New Museum of Contemporary Art decided in 2001 to pack up its home of 21 years on Broadway and board the art bus rolling out of SoHo, a temporary pied-à-terre was out of the question. It simply could not afford one it considered acceptable. Its yearly budget is less than $4 million, and the new home, designed by Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa of the Tokyo firm Sanaa, that it plans to open on the Bowery in 2006 will cost $35 million, not that much more than the Modern spent on its outer-borough outpost alone.

    But as the New Museum pondered the best ways to exist without walls for more than two years, money was not the most important factor, said Lisa Phillips, its director. More crucial were questions about the identity of the museum itself. Founded by Marcia Tucker in 1977 in rented office space on Hudson Street after she was forced out as a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New Museum's radical mission was to question the whole idea of the museum. What should one be? Should one be? And if so, what kinds of art qualified as "museum-quality" art?

    "I wanted to see if this museum could provide a model for an institution to work that wasn't institutional," said Ms. Tucker — who decreed, for example, that all full-time staff workers, including herself, would receive the same salary, that decisions would be made (at least in theory) democratically, that there would be no permanent collection, that more contact between artists and visitors would be encouraged and that accepted boundaries between art and life would be attacked at every turn. Her motto, she said, was "act first and think later, so you actually have something to think about."

    Over the next two decades, she tried hard to live up to the motto, in the process helping to redefine the role of the museum even as the New Museum's own shows were sometimes ridiculed, sometimes actively loathed. (Enraged viewers threw trash cans through the plate-glass windows of one infamous show that included do-it-yourself flag-burning kits.)

    In the 1980's, the museum put together shows that examined the pressing problems right outside its own doors, like AIDS and — appropriately for the museum's situation now — homelessness. It also explored how some artists make their lives into art, the kind that does not fit into museums: one show described the "work" of the artist Tehching Hsieh, who lived outdoors for an entire year, during which time he vowed not to "look at, make, read about, or talk about art, or enter a museum or gallery."

    As the museum aged and Ms. Tucker stepped down in 1999, the museum's iconoclasm waned, perhaps necessarily. In 2000, it accepted its first corporate donation of artworks. It is now considering the once-heretical idea of maintaining a permanent collection, and its most recent fund-raiser was held at Cipriani 42nd Street, the cavernous mess hall of the well-heeled.

    But Ms. Phillips said that she and the museum's curators were still acutely aware of the need to use the transition to the new building as an opportunity to think again about the definition of the museum. And so, while it has taken 7,000 square feet of space on the first floor of the Chelsea Art Museum on West 22nd Street for a year, its curators decided that the first major show would not be within walls, but outside them.

    Called "Counter Culture," the show, which remains in place until Aug. 14, features five works that visitors will be able to find, if they are somewhat intrepid, on or around the stretch of the Bowery where the new New Museum will rise on what is now a parking lot.

    One work, by Ricardo Miranda Zuñiga, will be installed in an alley behind the site. Another, by a group called Flux Factory, invites viewers to enter a martial-arts supply store, walk up to the counter and say a special password, "Gert Frobe," to gain access to a part of the store usually off limits to the public. (For non-James Bond fans, Gert Frobe is the name of the actor who played Goldfinger; Flux Factory uses its "installation" to imagine a kind of alternate Bowery history involving espionage and intrigue instead of flophouses and gin mills.)

    Julianne Swartz, whose work was recently in the Whitney Biennial, built a bright yellow conduit of plastic pipe that stretches up the side of the Sunshine Hotel, one of the Bowery's last flophouses, which will be the museum's odd next-door neighbor. The conduit, outfitted with mirrors, allows passersby to peek into the hotel's lounge area, and gives the residents themselves, all men and some very isolated and lonely, a chance to engage in conversation with those below (echoey but intimate, in a tin-can telephone way) if they want to.

    Another artist, Marion Wilson, has bartered with residents of the Bowery Mission, an organization for the homeless that is just down the street from the hotel, and has incorporated items donated or sold to her by some of the men there — a faded T-shirt, locks of dreadlocked hair, a bright religious drawing — into her own artwork, which she is selling from a cheery, flower-festooned cart she has begun pushing around the neighborhood like a hot-dog vendor. Not long after she started, she even took on one of the mission's residents as a helper and, in exchange for his work, she is using some of her profits to help him meet his child-support payments.

    After a recent church service at the mission, followed by a fried-chicken lunch, Ms. Wilson said she was intrigued from the beginning by the thought of a no-walls show and had even figured out a way to store her art after hours, with no museum nearby to help her.

    "The attendant for the parking lot has been very nice, and he says he'll keep it in his booth overnight," she said, explaining that she sees many parallels between her work and the nomadic state of the museum itself.

    "I'm like a store without walls," she said. "And I'm going to be very transient, the way the museum is now."

    In some ways, the show harks back to a braver world of urban art in New York City in the 1970's, when the museum really was new — for example, to the guerrilla works done by Gordon Matta-Clark, the most famous of which landed him in legal trouble after he sealed off an abandoned Hudson River pier and cut crescent shapes into the walls of a warehouse he did not own. It also brings to mind the dances that Joan Jonas choreographed and filmed amid landfill piles that were later to become part of Battery Park City.

    But the New Museum's show is guerrilla art in only the nicest, new-millennium sense. The show's organizer, Melanie Cohn, said that the museum planned to spray-paint a logo near the site of each work, to make them easier for visitors to find. "But it's going to be temporary paint," she said. "We want people to be able to wash it off."

    The show is not intended to be confrontational or to underscore the area's disintegration. In fact, it is trying to do the opposite: to say hello to a neighborhood that is rapidly changing from skid row to a row of condos and bars, a gentrification that will be speeded by the museum's arrival there. And the intention is also, while exploring a museum without walls, to introduce its visitors to their new destination.

    "Otherwise," Ms. Cohn said, "people really have no reason to go down there and look at a parking lot. But it challenges us to do this, and it also challenges the people who go to see it. In a museum it's easy. But out in the world you think: `Am I going to be able to find it? What am I supposed to do when I find it? Am I trespassing?' You don't know."

    Ms. Phillips, during an interview at a coffee shop near the new site, said the museum's staff had been inspired to do the show in part by the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, which was forced to think on its feet when it found a virulent mold in its new building in 2002 and had to close for repairs. Its way of keeping itself alive in the interim was to allow curators at other Swedish museums to dip into its collections and stage shows around the country using its works. It also opened a temporary space in an old post office near a train station and held exhibits that lasted only two weeks.

    "We knew we weren't MoMA and we weren't going to go that route, but we very much wanted to keep our presence alive in the city," she said, mentioning the Morgan Library, which decided last year to close completely until expansion is completed in 2006, with very little programming until it reopens.

    "Willingness to embrace risk and uncertainty is a positive thing," she said. "And it's especially good for us."

    Whether it will be good for longtime visitors to the New Museum or for the Bowery remains to be seen, as art lovers begin to trek eastward, with maps in their hands, and the residents of the Sunshine Hotel await them. Bruce Davis, who has been living in the hotel for many years, said he is keeping an open mind about Ms. Swartz's low-tech communications conduit.

    "I couldn't see any reason for it at first," he said the other day, rolling a cigarette in the sparse hotel lounge, as a fan labored weakly against the heat. "Then I realized it must be for some kind of artistic touch."

    James Carrow, the hotel's manager, said the residents ignored the bright-yellow contraption at first. But in the first week after it was installed, they slowly began to wander over, stick their heads inside the bell-shaped end of the tube and respond to the strangers, mostly tourists and teenagers, calling up to them.

    "I'm surprised people are that curious about us up here," Mr. Carrow said, shaking his head. "But you never know what people are going to like nowadays."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  10. #10
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    New at the New Museum

    On Tuesday the 28-year-old New Museum of Contemporary Art will break ground for its $35 million building at the Bowery and Prince Street. The 60,000-square-foot, seven-story museum was designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, in partnership as Sanaa of Tokyo.

    When the building opens in late 2007, the museum will have a larger curatorial staff. In June, Lisa Phillips, the museum's director, hired Richard Flood, chief curator of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, to be its chief curator. This week she announced the appointment of Laura Hoptman as a curator.

    Ms. Hoptman was most recently curator of contemporary art at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, where she organized the 2004-5 Carnegie International. Earlier, she was an assistant curator of drawings at the Museum of Modern Art.

  11. #11


    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1
    On Tuesday the 28-year-old New Museum of Contemporary Art will break ground for its $35 million building at the Bowery and Prince Street.
    Bummer, I was hoping they'd invite it to the cultural building at the World Trade Center.

  12. #12
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc
    Bummer, I was hoping they'd invite it to the cultural building at the World Trade Center.
    At this stage I doubt any cultural institution worth its salt would want to put themselves through that dog and pony show.

  13. #13


    ^ Not meant seriously.

  14. #14
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


  15. #15


    If the families saw some of the exhibitions at the New Museum, they would never complain about the IFC.

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