After Selling Out of 9,000 Felt Grocery Goods, the Artist Lucy Sparrow Has to Close Her Fake Bodega

The 9,000 felt food sculptures weren't enough to satiate art-starved New Yorkers.

Lucy Sparrow, 8 'Till Late. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.
Lucy Sparrow, 8 'Till Late. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.

Everyone knows that New Yorkers love a good bodega, but British artist Lucy Sparrow wasn’t quite prepared for the popularity of her hit exhibition 8 ‘Till Late. Despite crafting 9,000 felt sculptures for the occasion, Sparrow announced on Tuesday that her first solo show has sold out and will close nine days early, on June 21.

“The response to the show has been immense and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to attend and embraced the sentiment of what is my favorite installation to date,” said Sparrow in an email to artnet News. “I would like to send a heart-felt apology to anyone who wanted to attend due to our early exit.”

On view at the Standard Hotel in New York’s Meatpacking District, 8 ‘Till Late opened June 6, and was an immediate sensation, both on social media and among would-be art collectors. Midway through the show’s run, Sparrow closed for a couple of days to restock, but still could not meet customer demand.

Rare is the exhibition where the average man on the street can afford to buy anything, but Sparrow was selling mystery prizes for just $5, with tiny felt lighters starting at $15.

Most of the objects cost between $20 and $75—pricey by bodega standards, but a steal in the art world. A back room operated as more of a traditional gallery, selling boxed displays of the hand-painted sculptures with prices in the four-figure range. The cost of the entire installation worked out to $500,000.

Sparrow broke the news of the shop’s truncated run on Instagram, where fans begged her not to close. One disappointed would-be visitor asked if that meant they couldn’t experience the work during an upcoming trip to New York. “I’m afraid so, there’s barely anything left,” she replied.

The bodega was impressively comprehensive, with felt versions of frozen food, fresh vegetables, alcoholic beverages, toiletries and medicines, as well as a deli counter and a hot dog stand.

According to Sparrow, the five most popular items at the shop were Moet Chandon champagne, Heinz Ketchup, Vagisil, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and JIF Peanut Butter, all of which sold out within hours of the opening.

Lucy Sparrow, 8 'Till Late. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.

Lucy Sparrow, 8 ‘Till Late. The tiny mouse was stolen by a visitor on June 20. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.

One particularly cute detail, unfortunately, was stolen on June 20, Sparrow announced on Instagram. She declared herself “heartbroken” over the theft of a tiny mouse sculpture swimming in a bucket being used to clean the bodega floor. If anything, the unfortunate incident just stands to prove that all bodega owners must deal with the scourge of shoplifting.

The last day for 8 ‘Till Late will be June 21. Sparrow will stay open late, until 10 p.m., and will be doing a book signing from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.


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