New York City Art: July 2022

This month, New York At in Place highlights three wildly different locations (and the equally different events therein): trash, tragedy, and memorable clothing at, respectively, the Brooklyn Museum, the Park Avenue Armory (for the second time this colony ), and a famous former mafia hideout.


Descendant of Thieves, 247 Mulberry Street (formerly Ravenite Social Club)

Matteo Maniatty, Founder and Creative Director, Descendants of Thieves

“Having a store on the old Ravenite Social Club site feels like we’re really tapping into NYC history… even if it’s the dark side of it. People often come to the location just to experience it.

We were hesitant to get the rental because it seemed too cliche with a brand name, Descendant of Thieves. We don’t want to associate our brand with organized crime… or even unorganized crime.

After doing some research, we decided to embrace the location’s history by going back to when it was a turn-of-the-century Italian neighborhood espresso cafe. You can find hints of the historic storefront in our store, including original tile floors, tin ceilings and a vintage lever-action espresso machine that sits atop a central bar. Side note: We only offer single shot espresso; there is no milk on the premises.”

Until April 23, 2023


Duke Riley, artist

“I have called Brooklyn home for the past 25 years. The first time I visited the Brooklyn Museum was to see the 1999 exhibition ‘Sensation’. The exhibition broadened my understanding of what art could be. Arnold Lehman’s courageous defiance of Rudy Giuliano’s attempts to censor the show taught me how powerful art is and its ability to change things.

When Anne Pasternak became the new director, she increased that energy and completely transformed what a museum could be: a voice that directly addresses the most important issues facing the surrounding community and the world at large. The Brooklyn Museum is a benchmark of social engagement that others should follow.

It’s easy to forget that NYC is an archipelago. Much of the trash used in this show was collected from along the Brooklyn waterfront. Many of these places are unknown even to residents of Brooklyn and the lifelong border communities that are most affected by industrial pollution and climate change. It is important to look at these discarded items alongside the artefacts from the museum’s collection to understand what we will leave behind for future generations long after we are gone.”

Until August 13

“Hamlet” / “Oresteia”, Park Avenue Armory

Hildegard Bechtler, costumes and sets

“The designs of both shows were originally a space created within the Almeida auditorium [in London].

“Oresteia” was staged at the Almeida Theater in 2015. It was my first collaboration with Robert Icke, so it was a new conversation for us. Having already designed about ten previous productions in this atmospheric and evocative space, I was very familiar with the specific environment of the place. We both instinctively agreed not to hide the beautiful old brick world of Almeida, but to incorporate it.

In terms of materials, I felt that the stone, marble and glass not only felt appropriate for the Greek setting, but also married the Almeida brick world in a non-staged way. Once I inserted the glass corridor into the model, it stayed put and enabled fluid, restless movement throughout the production.

We hope the design looks simple, but in fact the use of all the elements by the actors is anything but. Rob had the model completed throughout the test process with the actors, to work out the fluid use of the glass panels. We risked using a very special glass that could be transparent or opaque in a moment. The challenge of reusing it in ‘Hamlet’ was deliberate. Luckily, that stage connection is really what made this double bill.

And now, that entire auditorium has become a building within a building!

In ‘Hamlet’, the feeling of being watched or seeing a multitude of corridors, entrances and exits in multiple places added to the overall sense of unease. Embarrassment in this now vast space designed specifically for the Armory scale has only intensified these themes explored.”

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