Thursday, March 10, 2011

Life in the Window: Inside the Hypergraphia Exhibition

Cup of the Day #76
Moebius Cup by Gwyneth Leech
March 10, 2011
India ink on pale yellow paper coffee cup

Forget the ladies of Amsterdam. In my chaste gray work clothes, people say I look more like Whistler's Mother. How about the fortune tellers scattered all around Hell's Kitchen? Those women sit in gilt chairs in their shallow window spaces waiting for people to come to them seeking the meaning of life. My grandmother taught me to read tea leaves and I have all these cups, so it is not a stretch.

The artist in the window
March 3rd, 2011
Copyright © Katherine Bourbeau

Then there is Marina Abramovic, sitting completely still, her hands idle, silently communicating with the public until she is exhausted beyond human endurance. Not me. I can leave my chair any time. With art materials around me and a cuppa at hand, I am completely comfortable  and content. I am just here to draw, the way I do in the studio, and see what people make of that. I wave politely when there is a knock on the glass and a thumbs up.

The window at 215 West 38th Street
draws a diverse crowd, March 10, 2011

Actually, people don't even notice me at first, so I get to see in their faces what they really think of my artwork. Generally, they register delight and surprise when they see the hundreds of cups filling the window, each one a unique drawing. On this gray Midtown side street the effect is surprising and it brings many to a standstill, clutching their brief cases and coffee cups. It is a privileged view the artist doesn't often get. "Did she draw all that shit?" Exclaimed a young man. Then seeing me, "wait, I mean that in a good way!"

 The artist's view from inside the window

There is an empty shop space behind the window gallery, through which I access the cup installation via a door. On this week day, during my 90 minutes of drawing the shop became very full. First came five art bloggers in a group, then Nancy Nikkal, an artist friend who blogs too. Cheryl McGinnis arrived with an art collector and a few minutes later, a drama student hurried in from NYU to interview me for an art essay between classes. At one point two random women from the Czech Republic wandered in off the street when the shop door was open and said, "We want you to learn to us". To top it off, as all of them gathered by the interior door to chat and take photos of me at work, John Haber, the esteemed art critic appeared outside on the sidewalk! It almost felt like a Sunday afternoon salon at Louise Bourgeois' house - but I am much, much nicer.

Informal Salon in the shop space
behind the window gallery
March 3, 2011
Photo by Katherine Bourbeau

I continue drawing in the window at 215 West 38th Street every Monday to Friday, 11:30 to 1:00 pm through Friday, April 1st.

I see you seeing me seeing you.
The artist in the window March 3, 2011
Copyright © Anne Finklestein


  1. Gwyneth: I was linked to your blog from Vivian Swift's charming site and have to tell you that your art/commentary on our throw away society is spot on. Being an avid coffee/tea lover, Starbuck's can thank me for keeping them in business with their Hazelnut Lattes...I was enthralled with your stories of life in NYC and your heritage. I read your entire blog in two sittings! Yes, true story.

    Keep up the great work and know that you struck a cord in this far from you dabbler in watercolor and drawing who lives in Las Vegas, NV

  2. Joan,

    Thank you so much for your wonderful commnents.
    Even I haven't read the blog all the way through. I am pleased that it adds up to a compelling whole. You are giving me ideas!


  3. If I can't be creative myself, I live vicariously through those who are, like you and Vivian Swift, among others.

    I have always been fascinated by repetitive patterns. I covered many notebook pages during boring lectures when I was in school, but I called them doodles and didn't save any of them, much to my regret.

    I'm intrigued by whatever I wrote that gave you ideas! I'm always interested in how artists come by their inspirations.

    Also: The Faber Castell India Ink Pens...are they pens with nibs and cartridges? Or are they like the Pentel Pens with the fine/med/broad tips...don't know what material the points are made of.

    A video (You Tube) of your work in progress would be a wonderful thing to observe for those of us who have no chance of traveling to your exhibit in NYC. Just sayin'.