• December 13, 2006
  • Posted by Marc

Wooster on Spring - How The Project Came Together

As we head into the final days before this weekend’s three day exhibition at 11 Spring, we wanted to give you a bit of the background on the project and to tell you how it all came together: 

It was about seven weeks ago that Sara and I received an email from Caroline Cummings. Caroline is a partner in Elias Cummings, the development group that recently purchased 11 Spring Street in Soho.  After exchanging some emails with Caroline, we called her and was surprised to hear that the reason she was contacting us was that one of the things that intrigued her and her partners about the building that they had just purchased, was the fact that each and every day they came back to the building they noticed that the artwork outside was changing and evolving. 

Unlike most developers who would have power washed the artwork off the building and put up scaffolding as fast as they could, Caroline and Bill Elias have a rich appreciation for the arts and instinctively knew that there was more to the building than met the eye and that they couldn’t just obliterate decades of history without doing something to recognize it.  Caroline told us…

“Part of what initially drew Bill and I to 11 Spring Street was its rich and constantly evolving visual presence.  Upon first glance, we knew that we were about to experience something unique and artistically complex.” 

So one of the first things they did was to research the history of the building on the web. And that’s how they had found us.  Many of the artists, and the building itself, had been featured on the Wooster site for many years so when they researched 11 Spring, a lot of trails came back to this site. 

So a few days after getting the email, we met with Caroline and Malcolm Stevenson, the building’s project manager, for a glass of wine at out flat. 

Caroline told us…

“After purchasing the building, Bill and I, along with our investors and Malcolm began to brainstorm various ways that we could celebrate the art that has become such a critical part of the building’s and neighborhood’s history. Considering the ephemeral nature of street art, it became clear that “preserving” or ushering future artists to sectioned off areas was antithetical and counter to the whole street art process. So we reached out to the Wooster Collective to see what we could do”

Sara and I immediately liked Caroline and Malcolm when they came over. Both of them have an incredible sense of history and truly appreciate the arts.  We felt that we could trust them, and I’m assuming that they felt that they could trust us as well.

So one of the ideas we can up with together that night was to do an exhibition inside the building that would celebrate the end of an era in the neighborhood and at the same time, showcase the work of a group of amazing creative artists who who’s work we all have been inspired by for many years. But there wouldn’t be a lot of time to put it together as the renovation process was set to begin in the coming weeks. 

So what was most important to Sara and I was that we all agreed on the following set of principles:

1.  That the project would not be financed by having to take money from brands for sponsorship.

2.  That the project would not be commercialized and that no profit would be made from the event. No silly press releases. No selling of t-shirts. No flyers. Nothing that would take away from the art and the creativity of the artists.

3. That the walls of the building itself would become the canvas. We didn’t want to put up boards and have artists paint on plywood that could then be removed and sold. We all agreed that the history of the building would become part of what we were all celebrating and that all of the work would be done directly onto the surface of the walls.

4. That the project would not become a “Fame Game” where only the established well known artists would be included.  While we wanted our friends like Shepard, WK, Swoon and others involved, we also wanted to make sure that young and up-and-coming artists were not only included but given the same kind of space and attention.  So along with the “names” in the scene, there are also some incredible discoveries who’s work in the exhibition will blow you away.

5. That graffiti artists would be working alongside street artists.  There’s often a lot of friction between the two communities and we wanted to make a point that the street artists need to honor those who came before them.  Along the same lines, we wanted to make sure that we honored the past as well as the future. So it was important to us to include such legends as Lady Pink, John Fekner, Cycle, and others. 

6.  That the art would not be used for commercial purposes and if there was an idea that came up that would use the art after the show was over, that it would have the consent of the artists.

7.  That we would attempt to bring to New York as many artists as we could afford who’s work has been known in Europe and Asia, but rarely seen in America.  Elias Cummings put up money to pay for the flights of such artists as Blek Le Rat, Bo and Microbo, Jace, and D*Face so that they could be here. 

So after agreeing on the fundamentals we put a list of artists together that evening, and the next morning we made some calls to our friends to see if they were able to come to New York to be a part of it.  Many of the artists put aside prior commitments and hopped on planes a few days after we called them.  Everything associated with this project has come together in only seven weeks time. 

After meeting that night for a glass of wine seven weeks ago, Malcolm and Caroline opened the building to us the next morning and we began work.

Like any project, you wish you could include more artists.  But even with 30,000 square feet of wall space in the building, we quickly ran out of space.

So again, here are the times for the exhibition.  It will only be open for three days….

Friday, December 15th: From 11am to 5pm
Saturday, December 16th: From 11am to 5pm
Sunday, December 17th: From 11am to 5pm

On Sunday, December 17th at 3pm there will be a panel discussion with many of the artists attending.