Take a walk down historic Washington Street in New York City’s Meatpacking District , and get ready to do a double take. A new, electric space with vibrant nostalgic paintings, modern design and an unlimited candy bar sits in the shadow of The Standard Hotel. It’s not a living room, but rather the latest exhibition by famed visual artist Jojo Anavim. The show, aptly titled “No Purchase Necessary” is a space unlike most New York or globetrotting art gazers are used to. Ditching the existing gallery model, the space is laid back, free spirited and welcoming.
An interview with Anavim about his buzzy new show follows:
Why did you decide to put on an exhibition now?
Summertime in the city is a bit unusual. So many locals are out of town and there aren’t many art openings until the Fall. My friend Sara who represents the landlord reached out this Spring and pitched me on a potential collaboration for the Summer. Given the proximity to the Whitney Museum, The Highline and all the great restaurants it felt like the perfect fit and a great way to get in front of a more international audience.
In a city with so many art galleries, many of which are near yours, how is yours different?
The space is meant to be the opposite of a pompous Chelsea art gallery. The mood is loungey, almost like a great room. While the artwork is for sale, the theme “No Purchase Necessary” has a dual meaning where you can take a look around and enjoy the art without the unwelcome attitude some might be used to gallery hopping in the area. The alternative meaning for the name of the show is inspired by all the contests I used to enter as a kid. They usually lived on the back of cereal or ice cream boxes. The fine print always read “No Purchase Necessary” and the artworks channel that magical optimism of the chance of winning big.
Tell us about the art on display.
The pieces are a reflection of my childhood and adolescence. They represent the brands I knew, saw, consumed and loved. They radiate a very positive energy and as one visitor put it “Why does everything need to be so serious?” No matter how much access one can have as an adult I think its impossible to re-create the feeling of that Saturday morning bowl of cereal or a Chipwich on a hot summer day as a kid, so these paintings were my outlet to try to re-visit those experiences.
Your art, in many ways, pays homage New York City. Does your gallery do the same and how?
One could be forgiven if they walked in to the exhibition and thought it was a bodega or grocery store (I’m joking of course). None of the works were based directly on NYC but they definitely wink at the old Pepsi machines I used to see by the 1 train, or the claw and arcade machines that were so popular in the neighborhood pizzerias for so long.
What about the other amenities such as drinks and food? How do they figure in, and how are they related to the art?
Part of the philosophy of the show is to engage more than just your visual senses. There is a free candy bar stocked with favorites like M&M’s and Twizzlers , (No Purchase Necessary) and if you get lucky and come in at happy hour, we have an open bar compliments of my friends at Laneta Tequila which is amazing. It makes for a really fun summertime atmosphere.
Will you be hosting events and other activations? Tell us about these.
We’ve hosted several private events, most recently for Lazzoni who also furnished the space beautifully. I also hosted an NBA player’s birthday party the other night, and we have some other private events lined up through August.
How is this exhibition different from the standard art gallery model?
The way everything came together was really serendipitous. RFR which owns the building is a big supporter of the arts and has such a storied history in NYC. When they and Mona Retail approached me about a collaboration, it was a no brainer. The space is so much more than a traditional gallery. It’s a place to come unwind for our friends, family, see existing collectors and meet new ones. There is nothing pretentious about it— it has such a casual vibe that anyone who walks in feels right at home.