Because of its intrinsically personal nature, making a gift of artwork to someone is what you might call a pretty ballsy move. Unless, of course, the art you are gifting happens to have the kind of broad universal appeal of art deco architecture. And this is the genius behind the Brooklyn-based Municipal Prints Company, a new boutique prints and lithograph maker that specializes in the gorgeous period art and design of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Their recent “City of Brooklyn” series is based on W.P.A.- era posters and I love the sharp clean lines, the elegant typefaces, and the rich contrasts of the colors. They’re great re-interpretations of some timeless designs and you pretty much can’t go wrong giving someone one of these.It’s a nice bonus that the story behind the company is kind of awesome. Brooklyn resident and founder Sheldon Yeager was a MTV Networks executive who happened to harbor a deep and abiding love of the aesthetic and architectural traditions of the early 20th century, specifically the grand public architecture of that era. Of course lots of us have passions and have debated following The Dream… but we get distracted because its lunchtime and we have to go to Duane Reade or whatever and so we never do anything about it. We find it inspiring when someone puts their money where their mouth is and takes a leap of faith for something they believe in. So we salute Mr. Yeager and the Municipal Prints Company for doing just that, and ultimately creating a really beautiful product in the process.
Donald Judd was one of the first artists to make Soho his neighborhood and moved to 101 Spring Street in 1968. Over the years, Judd used the space as his home and studio, a place for community events and meetings, and an exhibition space for installations and performances. Here’s a shot of him holding a seminar on the ground floor of the building.That’s him in the middle sitting on the desk and Julian Schnabel to the right with the shades on. In addition to being one of the most celebrated artists of his time, Judd was a huge preservationist and was instrumental in preventing the Robert Moses planned Lower Manhattan Expressway from decimating Broome Street. When his classic building’s façade began to sag, he called in architects and engineers, but could not afford to take on the massive project. Two years after his death in 1994, the Judd Foundation was formed and they sold 30 of his works to raise $20 million for the restoration of his buildings in New York and in Marfa, Texas.Restoration of 101 Spring commenced in 2008 and is expected to be completed by June of 2013. This building is one of the finest examples of this type of architecture in the neighborhood and is the only single use cast-iron building left in Soho.
It’s closed for the summer, so now’s a great time to go take a breather and check out some dirt. A big giant room full of dirt. About two feet deep.
Biking back over the Union Street Bridgetoday I stopped to watch a group of artists quietly painting the battered waterway. It was a really surprising place to see artists at work. It called to mind for me this thing I read once which touched on Monet’s series on the river Thames.
At the time, it was the Industrial Revolution and Monet was seeking to capture the natural beauty of a commercial river filtered through the smog and rainbow hues of pollution. Maybe this group was trying to do the same thing; to find natural beauty where it might still be hiding in the Gowanus. But then I thought maybe that’s kind of a stretch. Regardless of intention, pretty cool to watch artists at work, though.