On Friday, May 22, I had the opportunity to enter 190 Bowery for the First Show/Last Show art exhibit during a private excursion with 2 clients visiting New York.
The previous Saturday, I was one of many who showed up at 190 Bowery for the opening only to be told the event curated by Vito Schnabel, son of Julian Schnabel (Palazzo Chupi) was no longer open to the public and that we'd have to email vitoschnabel.com for an appointment.
190 Bowery gained landmark status in 2005. To most present-day New Yorkers, it's known as this mysterious, street art, graffiti and wheatpaste poster covered building on the corner of Spring St and Bowery that no one could penetrate. The building is owned by Aby Rosen (yes, of the Four Seasons "fame").
Upon entering the cavernous main space, I was struck by how clean it looked. It didn't look particularly old (yes, the upper floors were a private residence) and the back-to-back benches in the center of the room gave the space a definite museum feel. Details of the building's former Germania Bank status were evident by the 2 vault doors in the passageway before the staircase leading to the second level.
The second level was as far as we could go. I would have loved the opportunity to visit the vault on the lower level or check out the floors Jay Maisel and other artists once lived. Alas that wasn't the purpose of our visit.
As I joined my clients outside, men called to them from a car asking what was inside the building. "Art..." one of my clients called back. "An art exhibit? That's cool!" the driver called back before pulling away once the light turned green. My client later remarked how cool it was to have been able to go inside a building locals were asking her about -- she asked for art, I gave her art.
The building certainly looks haunted from the outside. Perhaps it is haunted on the inside. That may explain why certain photos I took simply vanished, leaving me with only a black screen or "corrupted data" message.
A few months before the First Show/Last Show opening but after Jay Maisel had moved out, Animal in New York made their way inside 190 Bowery...