The bodega is the life blood of New York: the quintessential corner store that serves all comers. It has everything you need at 3 a.m. after a night on the town, or when you desperately need a couple of packets of Advil and a bottle of water to wash it down. The best bodegas cater to the community while maintaining the standard set: affordable necessities that will keep you going for the moment.
British artist Lucy Sparrow understands this, and created 8 ‘Till Late at The Standard, High Line, New York—a lifelike recreation with every object rendered in felt. Everything you could ever want, from those frustratingly unripened avocados to a must-have can of Welch’s grape, classic cheddar Goldfish to the requisite jar of Cafe Bustelo, all under one roof—that is, until earlier this week when Sparrow announced she had sold out all 9,000 felt sculptures made for the exhibition.
The works, most priced between $20 and $75, flew off the shelves, reminiscent of how New Yorkers shop when news of a storm is coming to town. A box of Brillo? Gotta have it! Summer sausage? But of course. Heavy whipping cream? Why not—you never know when little things become practical necessities.
In the true spirit of the bodega, Sparrow priced goods for the common wo/man, offering mystery prizes starting at $5—truly affordable art. The exhibition became a major hit in a part of town where the locals have been priced out.
Once upon a time, the meatpacking district stunk of raw flesh, of old blood on cobblestone streets. It was pure working class, from the truckers and tradesmen to the prostitutes who walked The Stroll, with nightclubs sex clubs like The Vault nestled into nooks. Now the meatpacking district is a harbinger of New York, of what happens when money and status whitewash neighborhoods and all flavor is stripped away.
Last night, Sparrow broke the news that the show would be closing early on Instagram, to the dismay of her fans who had not yet had the opportunity to pay $60 for a quart of vanilla Dannon yogurt.
In tribute, Sparrow crafted a cover of The New York Post that announced “Artist Sells Out,” a curious statement is there ever was one, considering the impact that gentrification has had on the city, its artists, and the people who can no longer afford to frequent bodegas because rent spikes drove them out.
All photos:© Christopher Leaman, from “Lucy Sparrow: 8 ‘Till Late,” courtesy of The Standard, High Line.
Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Online, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Aperture Online, and Feature Shoot. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.