Lucy Sparrow Is Opening a New York Bodega Where Everything Is Made of Felt
The classic corner store reimagined in plushie form.
The corner bodega, an iconic New York institution, is getting an art twist: British artist Lucy Sparrow’s next project, a store stocked with convenience store and deli staples crafted from felt, will open next month at a space in the Standard, High Line, in New York’s Meatpacking District. It will be on view for four weeks beginning June 5.
Titled 8 Till Late, the installation will transform a 1200-square-foot space adjacent to the hotel’s Biergarten on Little West 12th Street. Everything from the freezer to the sandwich fillings will be hand-stitched by the artist, who will have fluffy versions of bodega staples, from band aids to frozen pizzas, available for sale.
At the deli counter, Sparrow will serve up fabric sandwiches with all the fixings—like individually sewn pickles—or customers can head to the self-serve hot dog stand outside the shop, applying glitter glue “ketchup” and “mustard” to his or her liking.
Sparrow is making her US debut with the show—although she did show work at SCOPE Miami Beach and, on a smaller scale, at the Affordable Art Fair New York, both in 2016. In 2014, a similar piece, titled Cornershop, was a hit in London, with crowds lining up around the block to visit her soft and squishy take on the convenience store.
For the upcoming New York iteration, Sparrow has immersed herself in American brands, making sure to keep any stray Britishisms from popping up in her bodega. The piece has been six months in the making, and was funded thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised just over £40,000 ($53,000).
“It’s massively exciting to be able to bring the felt to the US,” said Sparrow in a statement. “Creating all of these iconic American brands has been brilliant and I can’t wait to see the reaction from local people on seeing a felt world full of their favorite treats and hangover cures!”
But while Sparrow’s plushie work evokes a sense of childlike wonder, it also serves as a comment on the endangered nature of the mom and pop neighborhood store, increasingly replaced by chains and franchises, and how once unique, local spaces are becoming homogenized thanks to globalization.
“I want the work to make people think about the loss of community spaces when these small corner shops disappear; to remind them how valuable these corner shops really are and the color they bring to our lives,” Sparrow explained.
8 Till Late follows in the Standard’s growing tradition of public art exhibitions, which has previously presented work by KAWS, José Parlá, FriendsWithYou, André Saraiva, and Kenny Scharf. Sparrow will hold special programming throughout the exhibition, such as a weekly felt lottery draw and a singles night, called “8 Till Date.”
“Lucy Sparrow: 8 Till Late” will be on view at the Standard, High Line, 69 Little West 12th Street, New York, June 5–30, 2017.
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