Sunday, February 27, 2011

Raising the Cups: the Cups Take Off

Cups of the day #72
Gwyneth Leech, the Cup Drawings
goes up in the Fashion Center Space for Public Art
215 West 38th Street, NYC, off 7th Avenue
February 28 - April 1st.

Shouldering my Ikea bags full of cup drawings at the end of last week, I wove my way from my art studio on 39th Street, through the trolleys, dollies and racks of clothes that are still trundled across the sidewalks in the Garment District. At #215 West 38th Street, men in boiler suits on a morning break let me into the back door of the Fashion Center building. I unpacked my stuff onto a table in the unused shop space behind the window gallery and rolled my sleeves up. 

Arriving at #215 West 38th Street
The exhibition packs up small but this is only part of it.
The giant Ikea bags are inside already.

I then spent hours looping, tying and stringing cups together on clear fishing line before anything appeared in the window.

  A few trial cup sets go up.

By the end of the first of my two hanging days, I had a lot of cups suspended and the window was beginning to have the explosive quality I was looking for. I dreamed of tangled lines that night.

End of Day One.

Day two was a race against the clock - looping, tying, stringing, up and down on the step ladder, in and out to the street to check the hang and to document the process.
People were beginning to stop and take photos with their cell phones.
A mother and son came by.
"Mom, Look at all the coffee cups!"
"Yes," said mom. "See, there's Starbucks and Lenny's and Bread Factory and deli cups. She drew on every cup".
She turns to her son. "You could do that!"
The side view into the window from the stoop.

I continued to string cups in the space behind the window. The street door was closed and the boiler-suit men stopped there on breaks for a smoke, as did security guards and also staff from Ben's deli next door. They had a close up view of the cups through the side window and I overheard an exchange:
#1 "I never understand what they show in this space."
#2 "Well, read the description in the window."
#1 "I never understand the stuff they write there".
#2  reads the panel out loud.
#1 "But it's just coffee cups."
#2 "No, they aren't regular coffee cups. Look, each one is different."
#1. "Did she design them?"
#2. "She must have, like fabric.
#1 Oh, OK. That's a lot of cups of coffee.
#2. Understand now. Capisce?
#1. Yeah, yeah.

The view from the Hypergraphic's seat

At 5:00 PM  I was out of cups - they were all hung every which way, filling the space delightfully - and my time was just about up. I placed my chair - a small armchair with a wooden fan back which came from husband's grandfather's house in Scotland - then set out all my saved-up empties and my drawing materials. Monday I will start five weeks of sitting in the window every week day from 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM drinking my coffee or tea, drawing on empties and adding to the installation. Everyone is welcome to come and have a coffee break with me through the plate glass. But please don't smoke, I beg of you!

The view of the window from the street at the end of hanging.
A year's worth of cups. I drank and drew all that!?

Just before it was time for the security gate to come down at 5:30 PM,  I took a last look at the window from the sidewalk, nearly staggering with exhaustion. A man carrying messenger envelopes stopped. "I saw you working on the window all day," he said. "The way the cups hang at all those different angles is so cool. This window is great. It's like art, or something."

Gwyneth Leech, the Cup Drawings
 February 28 - April 1
Fashion Center Window Space for Public Art
at 215 West 38th Street
Monday - Friday 9:00AM - 5:00PM
 The artist will on site drawing and adding to the installation
Monday - Friday, 11:30AM - 1:00PM 


  1. Exciting. I’m truly sorry I just left NYC to go home to SF.

  2. Thank you Rowen! I will update with photos on the blog.

  3. BRAVO Gwyneth. Your images and collected comments from bystanders at the installation are so rich. Thank you for sharing. I will look for you on W 38 Street.