Sometimes walking around New York is like being in the middle of an enormous installation of performance art. Union Square was in full swing this gorgeous afternoon, and as I made my way north on Broadway I couldn’t resist a photo.
Upon reaching 23rd & Broadway, in the ‘prow’ of the Flatiron Building there was an installation of artwork by the artist Gwyneth Leech. I’d passed it before, but today Ms. Leech was there and of course nothing is more fun than chatting with the artist, so I stopped in.
The installation is called “Hypergraphia: Gwyneth Leech, The Cup Drawings — Studio in the Prow” and it is nothing short of magnificent. 800 or so paper coffee cups – the kind sold from every deli & donut cart in the city – are suspended in rows and completely covered with Ms. Leech’s work.
It’s a project you could look at for hours and never get bored. Part of the appeal, aside from the amazing designs on each cup, is the way they are hung in rows and sway slightly with every mischievous puff of air. In fact, standing there today I was reminded of another installation of art that was a feast for the eyes. Remember this?
Unlike quilts, however, coffee cups are a much more portable and accessible canvas, as was evidenced by the pile of empties just waiting their turn.
I love the fact that the Cup Drawings began almost by accident, as Ms. Leech simply used whatever was available one day when she felt the urge to draw and had no sketchbook on hand. What was available was a coffee cup. We all use them and normally they wind up in the trash. Ms. Leech’s exhibit is upcycling at its’ very best.
This is, in my mind, one of the great things about New York. Art is everywhere. My kids, both of whom are artistically minded (and, if I may be so bold, fairly talented) but who sometimes question whether what they do is “real” art, look at exhibits like Ms. Leech’s coffee cups and become motivated and inspired. Who would think to create art on and out of a throwaway coffee cup? Is that really art?
Of course it is. And it’s the best kind, because it is at once familiar & awe-inspiring; it moves people, draws them in and inevitably makes them smile.