Lucy Sparrow’s Pop-Up Art Gallery is Calling Attention to Gentrification

Exterior of a corner store created by artist Lucy Sparrow. The store sells groceries made out of felt fabric.

Exterior of a corner store created by artist Lucy Sparrow. The store sells groceries made out of felt fabric.
Photo credit: BasPhoto / Shutterstock

Not many pop-up art galleries can boast an inventory of 9,000 objects. And a bodega is not a common inspiration for chic pop art. But that’s the shape that Lucy Sparrow’s “8 ‘Till Late,” takes. The installation takes the form of a fully-stocked, New York-typical corner store. The shelves are real, but everything on them–from produce to boxes of tampons to the cash registers–is hand-sewn from colored felts.

Sparrow, 31, is a fiber artist from Bath, England. Replicating small businesses in felt is her usual inspiration; she’s done a corner store from London, a sex shop, and a cartoonish shop selling felt representations of firearms unavailable in Britain. “8 ‘Till Late” is her first installation in the U.S.A,; and she did months of research into what products would be available in a genuine New York City bodega.

Sparrow’s work, according to her, is about the things that modern neighborhoods are losing as traditional establishments are priced out. The site of “8 ‘Till Late,” adjacent to gentrifying influence Hotel Standard (also Sparrow’s lead sponsor), is far out of the price range of any actual bodega, and her cutesy objets d’art will appeal more to the hotel’s clientele than to the neighborhood’s original residents, but the effort is there.

Kevin Rockey, managing director of the Hotel Standard, said as much. He called her art “crowd-friendly,” “accessible,” and “quirky.” All words that appeal to apply just as well to the artist. She’s petite and cute, with trendy glasses and multi-colored hair, and has made herself a part of her art with hand-painted and sewn shoes, shirt, hat, and apron. But she’s also bluntly outspoken about her own past which includes mental illness and sex work, a nice parallel to the meat-packing district which the Standard Hotel is trying so hard to pretty up and polish over.

“8 ‘Till Late” debuted on June 5th and will remain open until June 30. It is located at 69 Little West 12th Street, New York City. Her replica shelf goods sell for $20 and up.

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About Alex Holt

I am a local artist from Brooklyn, NY. I love art, design, books, photography, gardening and blogging.
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