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

  1. #16


    January 19, 2006

    Critic's Notebook

    Art and Architecture, Together Again


    A rendering of the New Museum of Contemporary Art's new Bowery home, facing east from Prince Street, with a sample sculptural exhibit.

    A rendering of one of the galleries planned for the New Museum of Contemporary Art; the project is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2007.

    Those with long memories may recall the days when New York modern art institutions were not only in tune with contemporary culture but also determined to drive it forward. At the New Museum of Contemporary Art, that spirit is back in force.

    In late November, the museum broke ground on its new home on a decrepit strip of the Bowery on the Lower East Side. And while some of the design details are still being tweaked, it is now razor-clear that the building will do more to freshen the bond between Manhattan's art and architecture communities than any building since Marcel Breuer's Whitney Museum of American Art opened on Madison Avenue four decades ago.

    The aluminum-clad building, designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, founders of the Tokyo architectural firm Sanaa, evokes a stack of mismatched boxes on the verge of toppling over. Firmly rooted in the present, it is a remarkably sensitive exploration of the relationship between art, architecture and the human beings who animate them.

    The project, scheduled for completion in the fall of 2007, could not come at a better time. In recent years, it has become dismally clear that the art institutions that redefined New York culture in the 20th century are no longer invested in propelling it forward in the 21st. Despite its elegance, the recent $850 million expansion of the Museum of Modern Art had more to do with consolidating the museum's position as an arbiter of high taste than with engaging in the messy, ever-shifting realities of the art and cultural scenes.

    In 2003 the Whitney Museum signaled that it valued security over experimentation when it dropped a radical design for an addition by Rem Koolhaas, eventually replacing it with a conservative proposal by Renzo Piano.

    It would be unfair to expect the Modern to play the same cultural role it did in the 1930's, when it was probably the single most powerful force in introducing Americans to European Modernism. Yet as these institutions have quietly receded into middle age, they have left a void in the heart of the city. The New Museum is one of the few New York art institutions with the courage to fill it.

    Rising seven stories at a choice site where Prince Street ends at the Bowery, the museum clearly sought to bind itself to what's left of the youthful downtown scene. Its position at the end of Prince, one of SoHo's main axes, suggests a link to the SoHo art scene of the 1960's and 1970's - a nod to the creative fervor that reigned in the neighborhood before it was transformed into a glorified shopping mall.

    The ghosts of SoHo drift in and out of the design. Wrapped in a woven aluminum mesh skin, the stacked forms give the composition a mysterious quality, suggesting a culture in constant flux.

    They are also tough enough to stand up to the Bowery's mix of restaurant supply stores, dying single-room-occupancy hotels and shiny new residential towers. Amid the crush of commercial traffic from the Manhattan Bridge, the building will seem solid and industrial. At night, when the streets are barren, it is apt to be more ethereal and moody.

    Sanaa is known for both the clean precision of its forms and a knack for unearthing the softer qualities of glass. The layering of transparent and reflective surfaces in the marvelous Christian Dior building in Tokyo, for example, give the interiors a luxurious milky quality, like layers of veils.

    But the New Museum's design is intended as more than a metaphor; it is also to be a concrete realization of the museum's values. The street-level façade will be entirely transparent, like a shop window. The idea is to bring the experience of viewing art to the street, reaffirming the institution's role as a public forum. The main floor is divided lengthwise into a lobby and a loading dock that will be visible from the street, so that the process of transporting art is open to public view.

    The lobby, echoing the proportions of an old downtown loft, is divided into a series of lively public zones, beginning with a ticket counter and cafe and culminating in a large glass-enclosed gallery - a fish bowl of the art world.

    The informality of the arrangement reflects how the contemporary art world is changing as barriers between the various arts dissolve. Creation is a collaborative act in which the audience plays a role: at the New Museum, art, architecture, graphic design, film and the public will all jostle for attention.

    That embracing vision extends to the very top of the museum, where a 3,000-square-foot multipurpose space will offer sweeping views over the area's old tenement blocks to the dense cluster of towers on Wall Street.

    The quiet simplicity of the galleries, sandwiched in the middle floors, offers a momentary repose. The beauty of the shifting setbacks on each floor is that it allowed the architects to create skylights on every level, illuminating them with a blend of natural and artificial light.

    In the fourth-floor gallery, for example, natural light will wash down the south wall through a long slotlike skylight while the rest of the room will be illuminated by lights hidden above a mesh ceiling.

    Purists who believe that architecture should take a back seat to art may grumble that the uneven blend of natural and artificial light will be distracting. But the result will be atmospheric, with the mood of each room shifting slightly over the course of the day depending on the weather. In their choice of materials - from the smooth concrete floors to the exposed steel I-beams - the architects sensitize the visitor to the tactile qualities of the world around them. The aim is to lure us out of our everyday stupor, to open our hearts to the art.

    Of course, one building alone cannot remake a culture. But Lisa Phillips, the museum's director, clearly found the right architect for her building. And she has brought in curators who have no interest in preserving the status quo; instead they envision the museum as a laboratory for cultural change.

    The question on every New York architect's lips is whether the museum will be willing to organize the kind of architecture shows we so desperately crave: shows with a strong critical point of view, like the ones that MoMA mounted in its glory days.

    Rarely, in today's New York, does a building project inspire so much confidence in the future.

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  2. #17


    This building is awesome. It is really amazing to see how the Bowery is changing. The area also is a great one to house a contemporary art museum.

  3. #18
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Crazy steel going up on this one ...

    Here's what the New Museum will look like when complete:

    And here's what it looks like today ...

    Some shots, starting with steel popping up over the neighbors taken from Chrystie / Stanton and then working around to the Bowery and then away from it down Spring Street:

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  4. #19


    Lofter, who took those photos?

    EDIT: nevermind, I made my way up to the BOA thread. Good to see you finally equipped with something!

  5. #20
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Manhattan - South Village


    Love your photos, lofter.

  6. #21
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Somebody over at curbed took some shots -- looks like yesterday, as well.

    It seems from the way the diagonal steel is going up here that most of the light in this one will be coming in through skylights ...

  7. #22
    The Dude Abides
    Join Date
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    NYC - Financial District

  8. #23
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    This one is topped out with structural steel -- the flag is flying ...

    They are now erecting the roof-top frame work (the upper-most cube) which will house all of the mechanicals / water towers.

    The upper floors are visible throughout the LES and up & down the Bowery...

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  9. #24


    First exhibit suggestion: Fernando Botero..., scroll down.

  10. #25
    Banned Member
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    Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY


    I love this design and its location. Keeping the LES a funky mish mash. Lots of creative, less than typical, colorful and craftily shaped buildings down there. One can argue endlessly about the loss of old, historic buildings and old New York, but there are these little gems (or gems by rendering) that are popping up at the most unusual places.

  11. #26
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Marcia Tucker, 66, Founder of a Radical Art Museum, Dies

    Chester Higgins Jr.
    The New York Times, 1998
    Marcia Tucker
    October 19, 2006

    Marcia Tucker, a forceful curator who responded to being fired from the Whitney Museum of American Art by founding the New Museum of Contemporary Art, died on Tuesday at her home in Santa Barbara, Calif. She was 66.

    Ms. Tucker learned several years ago that she had cancer, but a spokeswoman for the New Museum did not specify the cause of death.

    In establishing the New Museum in 1977 when she was 37, Ms. Tucker continued the proactive impulses of an older generation of women who helped create the foremost modern art museums in New York: Abby Aldrich Rockefeller of the Museum of Modern Art, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and Juliana Force of the Whitney and Hilla Rebay of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

    But Ms. Tucker, who was born in Brooklyn, came of age in the 1960’s and was a product of her time. She said that her motto in founding the museum was, “Act first, think later — that way you have something to think about.”

    Her encounters with feminism in college became the basis of a political activism that permeated much of what she did. But it was balanced by an omnivorous passion for art. In the early 1970’s she belonged to the Redstockings, a feminist group. In the 1980’s it was often rumored that she belonged to the gorilla-masked Guerrilla Girls, feminist watchdogs of the art world. Later she helped form an a cappella singing group called the Art Mob (singing alto) and also sometimes performed as a stand-up comedian.

    In a sense she made the New Museum, which she ran for 22 years as director, in her own image: a somewhat chaotic, idealistic place where the nature of art was always in question, exhibitions were a form of consciousness raising and mistakes were inevitable. She also wanted the museum to welcome art that was excluded elsewhere because it was difficult, out of fashion, unsalable or made by artists who were not white or male or straight.

    The daughter of a trial lawyer, Ms. Tucker was born Marcia Silverman and grew up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and then New Jersey in a household that took politics and culture seriously. Drawn to art from an early age, she studied theater and art at Connecticut College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1961 and spent her junior year at the École du Louvre in Paris.

    Her first job was as a secretary in the department of prints and drawings at the Museum of Modern Art; she soon quit because she was asked to sharpen too many pencils. She went on to earn a master’s degree in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and worked as an editorial associate at Art News magazine.

    She also supported herself by cataloging private collections, including those of Alfred H. Barr Jr., the first director of the Museum of Modern Art, and the independently wealthy painter William N. Copley. She was especially close with Mr. Barr and his wife, Margaret Scolari Barr.

    Ms. Tucker acquired her surname Tucker in an early marriage. Survivors include her current husband, Dean McNeil; their daughter, Ruby; and her brother, Warren Silverman.

    In 1969 Ms. Tucker became a curator of painting and sculpture at the Whitney. She almost immediately helped point the museum in a new direction with “Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials,” the first large show of Process Art, or Post-Minimalism, in an American museum, organized with James Monte, another Whitney curator.

    Her subsequent shows included surveys of the painters James Rosenquist, Joan Mitchell and Al Held, and the Post-Minimalists Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman and Richard Tuttle. The harsh reviews of the ephemeral, hard-to-find artworks in the Tuttle show eventually led to her dismissal in 1977.

    That same year, after assembling a board of trustees that included the philanthropist Vera List, she opened the New Museum on Fifth Avenue at 14th Street, on the ground floor of a building owned by what is now the New School.

    At the New Museum she emphasized inclusive group shows with provocative titles like “ ‘Bad’ Painting” and “Bad Girls,” insisted that the museum guards be knowledgeable about the art on view and planned to de-accession the collection every decade to keep the museum young. She served as series editor of “Documentary Sources in Contemporary Art,” five anthologies of theory and criticism.

    Her most notorious show, “Have You Attacked America Today?,” caused garbage cans to be thrown through the plate-glass window of the museum, which had by then moved to Broadway in SoHo. (The museum is constructing a new $35 million building on the Lower East Side, which is expected to open late next year. Until then it is sharing gallery space with the Chelsea Art Museum.)

    John Walsh, then director of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, Calif., described Ms. Tucker in especially apt terms in a 1993 article in The New York Times: “There’s always been a social conscience in Marcia that’s impatient and results in a kind of alertness you can just read across her forehead like a Jenny Holzer sign.”

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  12. #27
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    The Woman Who Ate the Carnations

    David B. Hayt
    Marcia Tucker, right, and Maxine Hayt, the author’s mother, dressed as witches for Halloween.
    November 19, 2006

    New York Observed

    On Oct. 19, the day the obituary appeared, my mother, Maxine, called to tell me in a flat voice that the cancer had finally killed Marcia Tucker, the renegade museum curator, feminist and political activist.

    The news prompted a jumble of reactions and memories. This woman had changed my mother’s life and, in so doing, turned our family upside down.

    The upheaval started in 1977, when I was 16, and my brothers 14 and 12. That was the year the Whitney Museum of American Art fired Marcia, then 37, after her show of Richard Tuttle’s iconoclastic work. The dismissal emboldened her to make a gutsy move: with meager financial backing, she founded the New Museum of Contemporary Art in Downtown Manhattan. Her motto was: “Act first, think later. That way, you’ll have something to think about.”

    At the time, my mother was a frustrated 40-year-old homemaker with a two-pack-a-day smoking habit. She had once been a promising painter, but she gave up pursuing a career as an artist after marrying my father, bearing three children and settling in Great Neck, the wealthy Long Island suburb. When we were little, she tried to channel her thwarted creativity into taking needlepoint classes and designing fliers for our school fairs.

    She also took art classes at a local college and claimed a small sunroom off our kitchen as a studio, where she drew grand-scale portraits of Bowery bums whom she had enlisted my father to photograph, offering them cigarettes in exchange for taking their picture. But she remained adrift, without connection to others who might validate or challenge her work. Was she simply a Sunday painter, she must have wondered to herself.

    Angry, depressed and desperate to establish her own identity, she sought help from an Upper East Side psychiatrist, who happened to mention that another patient of hers had just opened a museum on a shoestring and needed volunteers.

    It was shortly after my mother started work there that the two of them met. Marcia introduced herself and extended her hand. My mother’s hands were dirty from unpacking boxes, and so she declined to shake. Marcia didn’t care. They clasped hands and arm wrestled instead of letting go.

    The tussle was prophetic. Marcia enjoined my mother to take herself seriously as an artist. In response, my mother moved out of the sunroom and took over the basement of our ranch house. She began to assemble a battle scene out of dismembered toy action figures that she reconfigured, lacquered in bright colors and adorned with feathers, beads and rhinestones.

    The creation, which included a three-foot-high plaster volcano that my mother had gotten my father to wire so that it emitted puffs of smoke, represented a phantasmagorical apocalypse. Was my mother exorcising her demons, I wondered, or embracing them?

    To be honest, her transformation was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it was cool having a mother who didn’t play tennis or wear spiffy Ralph Lauren. On the contrary, she subscribed to Artforum, dressed in denim work shirts and had a kooky new friend who favored velvet-fringed scarves and encouraged my mother to let her naturally frizzy hair go wild.

    When Marcia wanted to go out to lunch wearing pink plastic shower bonnets, my mother jumped at the chance. When she and my father discovered that my brothers were growing marijuana in the backyard, my parents hauled the crop to Marcia’s, where she baked pot brownies and everyone got stoned out of his mind.

    But my mother’s adventures left a void. She abandoned all domestic duties, staying out late in the city with Marcia and Marcia’s new and much younger artist husband. My harried father took up the grocery shopping, my brothers resentfully cooked dinner, and I retreated to my room, lonely for my mother but not able to do anything about it.

    When my mother was around, things weren’t much better. Descending to the basement to work, she found temporary solace, though for us, her self-absorption felt like a rejection. My brothers and I blamed Marcia, whom we now saw as a Svengali, luring my mother away from the family.

    When Marcia introduced my mother to a shy, penniless, misanthropic artist named David who shared her nicotine cough and her macabre fascinations, it seemed as if we had lost her completely. The two of them were constantly on the phone or at his apartment on St. Marks Place, a one-room space painted blood red and filled with crucifixes. She took him to dinner at One Fifth Avenue, where they drank bubbly and sang, “I get no kick from Champagne.” When he dared her to eat the floral centerpiece, she swallowed a carnation.

    He visited our house — the first gay person to do so, as far as we knew — wearing a toreador-style black and gold-tasseled bolero. Keeping his eyes averted, he chain-smoked mutely. It was a relief when he and my mother slipped away to the basement.

    There, however, he was blown away by what he saw. He insisted that Marcia rush to Great Neck to see my mother’s new work. Marcia duly appeared not long after, and when she glimpsed the genocidal tableaux from the top of the staircase landing, she burst out, “Do an installation for the front window of the New Museum!”

    WHEN The New York Times printed a photograph of my mother’s assemblage, the event represented the turning point in her life. She was now a “real” artist who deserved to live among other “real” artists. SoHo summoned.

    In 1984, with the purchase of a loft on Wooster Street, my mother finally secured her independence. By then, my brothers and I had left for college. My father remained on Long Island, to which my mother commuted on weekends. My father became increasingly preoccupied with photography.

    The next decade started on a low but ended with a high note. David died of AIDS, my mother at his bedside, holding his hand. Her first grandchild — my son — was born, and, motivated by the desire to live to see him grow up, she quit smoking. In 1994, Marcia included my mother’s work in the New Museum’s “Bad Girls” exhibition, a feminist critique of sentiment and sentimentality. My mother hired a studio assistant and had a handful of gallery shows, one of them in Paris.

    Then, in 1999, after 22 years at the helm of the New Museum, Marcia stepped down, having learned she was sick, and she eventually moved to California. My mother offered to visit, but Marcia declined, making excuses. My mother was baffled and hurt.

    Yet she continued on course. Last year, she sold her loft and bought an apartment in the Flatiron district with two bedrooms, one of which now serves as studio where she draws obsessive, eccentric images of deformed and crazy people. Her work has become a deeply private, fulfilling form of self-expression. And against the odds, my parents’ marriage has survived.

    What is ironic is that despite my brothers’ and my fears — despite, truth be told, my jealousy of the attention my mother lavished on Marcia and the impenetrable intimacy they shared — my mother’s pursuit of her own creative impulses didn’t lead to a broken home. Her liberation gave her the room she needed to stay married to my father; in fact, her art was partly their collaboration. She came to see him as a talented photographer.

    The inadvertent outcome of Marcia’s intervention in my mother’s life is that our family is now richer and very much united. Who could have imagined that the death of a bohemian interloper would make me wish I’d had the chance to thank her?

    Elizabeth Hayt’s memoir, “I’m No Saint: Memoir of a Wayward Wife,” has just been published in paperback by Warner.

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  13. #28
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    The New Museum is under wraps while concrete is poured on the floor plates ...

    Meanwhile, a block south on The Bowery another less artfully designed jumble of boxes has risen ...

    And across the street, the grand hulk of a palazzo at 90 Bowery offers a greeting to the new arrivals ...

  14. #29
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    While we all wait for the New Museum to open the gang at the ever-mysterious building at 11 Spring (around the corner at Spring & Elizabeth) is going whole hog for the big bash taking place there (reportedly) this weekend ...

    Cool pics at the wooster collective link below and HERE

    Wooster on Spring -
    The Dates (December 15, 16, 17)

    As we begin to receive emails from people from all over the world who are flying in for the Wooster on Spring three day open house, we're pleased to let you know that as of this moment the plan is to open the building up to the public for three days in December - Friday December 15, Saturday December 16, and Sunday December 17.

    While we haven't locked in the exact hours on the 15th, 16th, and 17th, the plan is to open the building in the day to the public in the daytime.

    More details coming soon ...


    Some recent pics of 11 Spring ...

    The Magic Way In ...

    This morning the gang had taken the ART beyond the building and into the streets:

    But by night the whole building seems to be expressing a sense of ennui with all the hype ...

  15. #30
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Last Hurrah for Street Art, as Canvas Goes Condo

    Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
    Caroline Cummings, one of the new owner-developers of 11 Spring Street, a building in NoLIta
    whose exterior has long attracted street artists from all over the world.
    December 14, 2006

    It was as if someone had told devotees of Picasso’s “Demoiselles d’Avignon” or Matisse’s “Dance” that the Museum of Modern Art had changed hands and would soon be shut down for residential redevelopment, with all the art inside to vanish as part of the deal.

    In this case the art is not hanging inside the building but is splashed all over the walls outside, in spray paint, wheat paste, rubber, plastic, metal, cardboard and various other unidentifiable substances, a story-high gallery of graffiti and street art that seems to have grown almost organically (and mostly unimpeded by the authorities) over the last two decades.

    Depending on your point of view, the hulking 19th-century brick building at 11 Spring Street in NoLIta, a former stable and carriage house, was either a stunning eyesore or one of the most famous canvases and lodestars in the world for urban artists. When those of the latter view heard recently that the building had been sold and would soon be gutted and converted into condominiums, they considered it the end of an era. Bearing their cameras, they began showing up at the building over the last few weeks in a kind of mournful procession.

    But inside the building over those same weeks, an unlikely tribute to 11 Spring’s history — and a brief reprieve for its artwork — was also quietly taking shape.

    After buying the building several months ago, the new owner-developers, Caroline Cummings and Bill Elias, wanted to find some way to bid an appropriate farewell to its past. They admired the artwork, they said, even if there was no way it could remain on a building where buyers would soon be dropping millions of dollars on new condos.

    Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
    Fleeting tribute to fleeting art: Marc Schiller, left, street-art documentarian; Malcolm Stevenson,
    construction manager; and Caroline Cummings, an owner of 11 Spring, with works
    that will be on view just three days.

    They contacted Marc and Sara Schiller, longtime documentarians of street art whose Web site,, collects thousands of pictures of such art from around the world. The group decided that the best salute would be to stage one last, thoroughly legal, art-making hurrah, inviting some of the best-known graffiti and street artists in the world, many of whose work already loomed large on the outside of the building, to take over the inside and completely cover five floors, 30,000 square feet of brick wall space, with work.

    The art would then stay up only for a few days before the contractors moved in with drywall to cover up the interior works and pressure hoses to erase those on the outside. There would be no sponsors, no press releases, no payments to the artist and no artwork for sale. As much as it is still possible in today’s art world, it would be art for art’s sake, a fleeting salute to a fleeting form.

    Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
    Doze Green, one of the 45 street artists, takes part in an unlikely tribute to 11 Spring’s history.

    Now, after nearly two months of work by 45 artists, the show is almost ready. The building’s doors will be unlocked tomorrow for an open house that will continue through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. On Monday work will begin that will eventually seal most of the interior artwork behind pipes, wires and drywall.

    “In a way the art is all going to disappear, but it’s also going to be sealed up in this incredible time capsule,” said Mr. Schiller, walking through the building Tuesday afternoon as more than a dozen artists continued to work on their pieces in a haze of aerosol fumes and sawdust.

    Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
    A heating unit painted by Darkcloud.

    Several of the artists involved in the project are still little known outside the street art world, but others have become highly successful designers, marketers and gallery darlings. Many converged on short notice from around the world to create artwork, some flown in and housed at the developers’ expense.

    Shepard Fairey, a veritable rock star in the street art world, came from Los Angeles before jetting off again for the Art Basel fair in Miami Beach. D*Face, a London artist who once proposed to his fiancée by painting the question on 11 Spring Street, flew in from north of the Arctic Circle, where he had been commissioned to create an artwork for the Icehotel in Sweden.

    And Jace, who created a piece on the building’s fifth floor that includes a frighteningly large mousetrap, made of wood and metal and baited with a huge bag of fake money — a clear jab at the development that is about to transform the building — probably won the prize for longest commute. He flew in from the island of Réunion, east of Madagascar, where he lives, spent several days in the building and then returned.

    “It’s like a family reunion we’ve got here,” said one artist in from Milan who calls himself Bo and works with a partner, a small woman who calls herself Microbo. “Except some of the family you’ve never met before.”

    Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
    Jasmine Zimmerman weaves together rubber bands at 11 Spring Street.

    The other evening, as music blared from multiple stereos, about a dozen artists were arrayed among the floors, still at work. One known as Lady Pink, a veteran New York graffiti artist, was applying the last touches to a large, pink supine version of the Statue of Liberty that was being impaled with a cross but seeming somehow to enjoy it.

    Mr. Schiller, passing by the work with Ms. Cummings, smiled. “This is probably the most political work we’ve got in here,” he said.

    Lady Pink smiled back. “Oh, it gets more political than this, believe me,” she said.

    Downstairs two members of a younger generation of street artists, a pair of New York-based twins who call themselves Skewville, went outside to look again at one of their favorite pieces — one that will soon become history — a very realistic-looking fake air vent that, if you look closely, spells “fake.”

    Early one morning a couple of years ago, they bolted it to a wall above one of the building’s doors.

    Ms. Cummings went outside to look at it with them and told them that she thought it was a great work of art. One of the twins looked at it and agreed. “Basically, she bought our piece for $10 million,” he said, “and the building was thrown in for free.”

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

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