Friday July 28, 2017 | by Sarah Thaw

SEEN: A real estate company turns unlikely spaces into showcases for contemporary art

Contemporary art is on display in unexpected spaces within New York City and beyond thanks to the Art-in-Buildings program, an initiative by real-estate company Time Equities, Inc. that is transforming windows into non-traditional exhibition spaces. The program was founded in 2001 by Time Equities, Inc. CEO Francis Greenburger, who, after walking into an empty lobby in one of his downtown Manhattan properties, decided that the space would be a perfect place to display art. Since that initial idea, the concept has grown to include building fronts in many different sites -- from the Financial District and other areas in New York City, to buildings across the United States and in three different countries -- and over 110 artists have been featured in its rotating exhibitions.Currently on view at the program's West 10th Window, a street-level storefront window located in Manhattan’s West Village that has featured unique artists in short-term exhibitions since 2012 is an installation by Ukraine-born, New York-based artist Inna Babaeva, who frequently employs glass in her work (Disclosure: The work was fabricated at the studios of UrbanGlass, the nonprofit arts center that published the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet as well as the print publication GLASS.). Eliana Blechman, the curatorial assistant and exhibitions coordinator of Time Equities’ Art-in-Buildings program, said that said she and her fellow curators “scour the internet, galleries and magazines” for unique artists to invite to display their work in the space.

When explaining how Babaeva was selected, Blechman said that it had to do with how effective her sculptures are in unusual spaces-- she works with a variety of materials to create humorous, surreal pieces that deal with themes of contemporary life. “Her work is really beautiful and interesting so aesthetically, it’s able to capture attention,” the curatorial assistant said. “It is being displayed in such a low-to-the-ground format, so it really should draw in viewers, people walking on the street, to see something and stop and take the time out of their day to look at the artwork-- because they haven’t specifically gone out of their way to see it.”

The modest 3-foot cube forces artists to work within its boundaries and limitations-- which for Babaeva in her Men O'war exhibit, meant covering the interior walls with mirrored plexiglass to open and expand the space beyond its physical boundaries, to invite in the gaze of passerby. Inside of the window lives a display that Blechman described as playful-- “floating” glass bubbles fill the space-- but also sinister, in that the bubbles appear tinted, as if by an oil or chemical spill.

“She has all these symbols incorporated like arrows or reflected mirrors that bring the viewer into the space, but kind of makes it an aggressive space as well,” Blechman said. “So her work is really effective in the window and able to engage in audiences that are just coming by.”

Blechman explained that the West 10th Window’s size restraints often offer a fun challenge for artists they have featured-- the opportunity to “play” with the space in a way that may not make sense when working within a larger area. Although the window’s parameters make it difficult for a person to fit inside, she hopes that one day there will be a performance art piece featured within it.

Blechman said that ultimately, the goal of the West 10th Window and the other Art-in-Buildings spaces is to expand the audience reach-- to give people, who may not otherwise be exposed to it, the opportunity to see contemporary work by artists living in or visiting the city.

“We love the idea of expanding the audience to art and giving people the opportunity to engage with it in the places they work and live,” she said.

Babeva’s exhibition will be on view at the West 10th Window until August 12th-- the next artists to occupy the space will be Jessica Stoller, Greg Smith and Melissa Jordan.

 

IF YOU GO:

Inna Babaeva
“Men O’war”
Through August 12, 2017
West 10th Window
223-225 West 10th Street
New York, New York 10014
212.868.1900 x387
Website

GLASS: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for 35 years.