Empty Storefront’s Function Transformed by LMCC’s Workspace and Swing Space Artists
Courtesy of The Broadsheet Daily: Friday, July 20th's "Downtown News"
Battery Park City has a new art exhibition space. When it became evident that the retail storefront on the southwest corner of the Conrad New York hotel was going to be empty through the end of the year, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) stepped in to reinvent it as an art exhibition space. For going on 40 years, LMCC has perfected the art of "activating" unused spaces all over Downtown and turning them into studios for artist residencies, as well as exhibition and performance spaces. From an abandoned subterranean bank vault beneath one of New York's oldest skyscrapers at 14 Wall Street, where avant-garde installations and performances take place, to artist studios in the former World Trade Center and in restored historic buildings on Governors Island, LMCC's arts programming enlivens the formerly staid corridors of Wall Street and its surrounding neighborhoods.
Many of the LMCC's grants and residency programs are earmarked for new and emerging artists, and finding spaces for these artists to exhibit their work is one more means of supporting them. "The ability of the LMCC to very quickly activate temporarily vacant space has made them a trusted resource in the real estate community for collaborative development," explained Melissa Levin, Director of Artist Residencies for the LMCC and also curator of the exhibition "Transforming Function." This show originated as part of the River to River Festival, and was originally conceived for Building 110: LMCC's Arts Center on Governors Island. When the space at the Conrad became available, Ms. Levin was able to quickly expand the exhibition to the second venue, which opened to the public on June 28.
All of the artists whose work is included in "Transforming Function" were participants in the LMCC's Workspace or Swing Space artist residency programs. Ms. Levin explained that they all share a preoccupation with technology and its uses, a "theme that we see organically coming out of our residency programs, through which we're serving the most exciting emerging and early career artists. A lot of them are working with new technology, science, and architecture and transforming the typical use of those fields." For example, Timothy Hutchings' "Moire Patterns #2 in 3D, 2012" is a mesmerizing 3-D video that explores the physics of interference patterns to create spinning and rotating dots and lines that reconfigure in dazzling combinations. High on a corner wall, Blake Carrington's abstract projection responds to any sound made in the space and is even sensitive to traffic outside. Titled "Noisebed_" 2012, it begs for audience participation and experimentation, and is very popular among younger visitors.
Mark Ricci, director of Corporate Communications for Hilton Worldwide, the Conrad's parent company, sees the exhibition as a natural extension of the hotel's significant art collection, which "boasts over 2,000 pieces of art by major contemporary artists, selected in collaboration with the Public Art Fund." It is also a link, he pointed out, to what Battery Park City's planners envisioned over 30 years ago: "the integral role that artists could play in distinguishing public spaces and invigorating this complex neighborhood of global businesses, residents and visitors from the around the globe."