As my elevator climbed toward artist David Foox’s studio on an undisclosed floor of a beautiful, expansive building deep in the heart of the financial district, my mind ran wild with expectation and curiosity. What would a nearly 100,000 square foot art space in one of the most expensive areas in Manhattan look like? Half expecting a gorgeous, modern studio full of eager interns, half expecting something I’d never seen before, I was delighted (and floored) by getting the latter.
Walking out of the elevator into a shadowy, dimly lit office space, the odd feeling that no one had seen or touched anything around me for decades slowly crept up my spine. Foox immediately and nonchalantly walked me past an eery post-apocalyptic office scene full of decaying gray cubicles, live electrical wiring and scattered arm chairs toward his work space.
When I later asked how he had acquired the space, he answered by saying that “whatever it is you really desire or intend will manifest itself.” Indeed, it seemed that his desire for a space that fit his needs manifested itself (thanks to the philanthropic good will of the building’s managers) in the form of a sprawling office space that had been abandoned for nearly a decade. As we neared his “office,” I got the feeling that I was in for one of the most interesting nights I’ve ever had in the city.
For those not in tune with the New York City art scene, David Foox has earned his place as one of the most prolific and eclectic artists of the past few years. Exploring every art form under the sun, from various styles of painting to vinyl toys to street art to collectible coins, Foox is limited only by how much of himself he’s willing to offer the world. According to David, who told me that every piece of work he creates “is charged with the love in my heart” (sometimes literally – he once painted his own heart onto x-rays of his own chest), it seems there’s still a whole lot of himself left to give.
Aside from wanting to see the space I’d heard so much about, Michelle, Erinn and I came to what Foox referred to as “the dark tower” to talk to him about his newest projects and hopefully get some insight on what he would be working on next.
There is an important story and reason behind every project Foox gives himself to. His vinyl toy project Organ Donors stemmed from a family member with cystic fibrosis, who was miraculously gifted two replacement lungs from a 26-year old iron man athlete who had died too young. Foox was so inspired by it that he decided to create an entire toy series that would raise not just awareness for organ donation, but charity money as well.
Foox’s current “FOLLOW” project, which blends more traditional art with an expansive street art movement, features scores of long-eared rabbits, often dressed in suits and uniforms. I knew the project had obvious ties to 2011 being the year of the rabbit, but I wanted to know more; so I asked Foox how the project had started and what it was all about.
He told me that it had all started with a ram. Foox wanted to do a series on rams with long, horizontal horns because they were steeped in historical folklore and esoteric understanding. When he finished, he was soon made aware that the ram’s horns had evil connotations; that the piece itself was exuding a ton of negative energy. Discovering that he could use the ram’s face and put it naturally on a rabbit’s body, the project took a 180. “Rabbits have a positive connotation, even though they’re a creature of the night, and are traditionally associated with the occult,” David told us. It seemed a natural fit.
The first half of the “follow” project was manifesting itself. It was the street art component, however, that I found most interesting, especially since Foox had never dabbled in it before. When I asked him why he decided to translate the follow project onto the streets of New York, he told us that “every sticker that goes out (and every stencil painted) is charged with the intention of being pervasive and repetitive… and for that to happen, it must be a message that everyone can make into their own meme or mantra. “FOLLOW” does that naturally because everyone can finish a thought… FOLLOW me, FOLLOW you, FOLLOW through, FOLLOW your heart and so on.”
Foox suggests that the New York he sees outside his window, the pristine views of Governor’s Island, the Statue of Liberty and the massive skyscrapers of the financial district, was built because our civilization was able to “shut out thought.” He says our society is one of worker bees and ants rejecting free thought in lieu of “advancement.”
He believes all that a great awakening of consciousness is coming, and he wants to be a part of it, promising to keep tagging until his message is “etched into the collective consciousness. I can’t imagine a more fitting place for Foox to work to pervade the lives and minds of America’s worker bees than an office that once housed scores of discontented businessmen trapped in colorless cubicles, an office that was also once the set of the film Wall Street 2.
So what’s next for David? At the moment, he’s working on a secret, innovative project codenamed “the Rothschild.” “It’s a new type of wallet in which your money gets folded in a magical way that makes it last longer,” states David. The Rothschild wallet is based upon stories Andy Warhol told his friends about how the Rothschild family would fold their cash in a specific manner to lengthen its life. Soon, everyone will be able to fold and carry their cash in the same esoteric way the Rothschilds did. “And it’s fun,” said David, smiling wickedly.
He’s also planning a project for the year of the dragon, 2012. As the dragon is the only magical creature of the zodiac, Foox believes 2012 is going to be a “magical year full of political and commercial shifts,” that it will be “China’s time to shine.” How will the year of the dragon manifest itself into Foox’s work? “I was thinking maybe through sculpture,” Foox told us. “When I imagine dragons, I imagine them in 3D. What do you guys think?” Constantly exploring new mediums and always willing to learn something from those who show interest in him and his work, Foox is truly an artist of the people.
Editor’s Note: It’s been so many years since we published this piece, we can reveal that it was located inside One State Street, which has been completely redesigned. You can see the lobby in the show The Undoing.