Pearl Paint on Canal Street, the shop famous for its checkered red and white facade and affordable, specialized art supplies, closed last week. Workers were fired, possibly illegally. Meanwhile, the “outstanding condo conversion opportunity” is listed for sale at a public asking price of $15 million. Many New Yorkers have taken the news with shock and sadness. Indeed, it is becoming a familiar feeling as real estate prices and developers have been squeezing artists and creatives particularly hard.
Street artist Gilf has responded to the abrupt closing of Pearl Paint with an installation at the site. Comprised of barricade tape that reads “Gentrification in Progress” and homemade candles that spell out “Rest in Peace”, the display makes a clear and poignant statement.
On her Instagram, Gilf writes:
As another NYC institution for the artistic community succumbs to the rampant corporatization of our great city I gotta wonder what are we doing to stop it? Turning an artistic haven into multi-million dollar condos is not my idea of#progress.
The Pearl Paint installation marks the second time Gilf has tackled this theme at an arts institution that was closed due to real estate development. Collaborating with BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), Gilf draped an oversized “GENTRIFICATION IN PROGRESS” banner across the Jackson Avenue side of the 5 Pointz building after the whitewashing of the beloved art center back in November.
The Pearl Paint installation was set up a few days ago. It has evolved somewhat as the elements have effected it and visitors have taken some of the candles and barricade tape.
Here are some close-up shots of the installation at Pearl from Friday, April 25:
A closer look in the mannequins in the window revealed another artistic statement about the situation:
Pearl Paint had been a neighborhood shop for more than 80 years. The art supply flagship store first opened on Church Street in 1933, and soon re-located to the massive 6-story building at 308 Canal Street. Over the years, Pearl grew from a house paint store to offer a wide range of art supplies, including everything from basic paints, drawing, and craft materials, to highly specialized sculptural supplies, frames, and portfolios. In addition to being a retail supply, the store served as a community and place of contact between artists.