In 1994, Artist Mark Dion Set Up a Lemonade Stand at the First Armory Show. Now He’s Back at It—and It’s Still $2 a Cup

He'll even throw in vodka at no extra cost.

Mark Dion at his Lemonade Stand. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

When fair fatigue strikes at this year’s Armory Show, look no further than booth A4, where Mark Dion is paying tribute to the show’s roots with a good old-fashioned lemonade stand. He’s selling the refreshing beverage for just $2 a glass and he’ll even spike it with vodka at no additional charge. (He’s also selling seashells for $1 each.)

The project originally appeared at the very first edition of the Gramercy International Art Fair, which was founded in 1994 and later became the Armory Show.

“I was making fun of the junior entrepreneurial spirit of [co-founder] Colin de Land, [dealer] Christian Nagel, and my dealer friends, kind of to take the piss out of them a little bit,” Dion told artnet News during the fair. He was manning the booth opening day, pouring drinks and garnishing them with lemon slices.

It’s part of a tribute to de Land and fellow fair co-founder Pat Hearn organized by Galerie Nagel Draxler.

Colin de Land and Christian Nagel with Mark Dion's <em>Lemonade Stand</em> at the Gramercy International in 1994. Courtesy Galerie Nagel Draxler.

Colin de Land and Christian Nagel with Mark Dion’s Lemonade Stand at the Gramercy International art fair in 1994. Courtesy Galerie Nagel Draxler.

In 1994, it was probably difficult to imagine that, 25 years later, the small fair would grow to include close to 200 dealers exhibiting on two piers on the far West Side of Manhattan.

But the project’s roots go even deeper, to Dion’s childhood by the sea in New Bedford, Massachusetts, when he would sit in front of his home selling lemonade and shells gathered from the nearby seashore.

He returned to New Bedford this past weekend to get more shells for the new iteration of the project, adding quahog clam shells to scallops shells left over from 1994. Dion is using the same wooden stand, the same cigar box for his seashells, and even has the same tiny paper cups (although he’s using larger ones for serving).

“The portion size has gone up, but the price is the same,” said Dion, who has a survey show at Storm King opening in May. “It’s practically a charity!”

Mark Dion is using the same box from which to sell seashells that he used in 1994. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Mark Dion is using the same box to sell seashells that he used in 1994. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Dion originally planned to use Country Time lemonade mix, as he did in 1994. But the fair’s contract requires all food and drinks to come from approved vendors, so the lemonade is actually the same stuff served elsewhere on Pier 94—albeit at a much lower price, especially when you factor in Dion’s willingness to spike the drink with vodka.

It’s “absolutely” the best deal at the fair, he said, noting that sales were already “much better than they were at the Gramercy.”

The Armory Show is on view at Piers 90, 92, and 94 on 12th Avenue between West 50th and 54th Streets, New York, March 6–10, 2019. 

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