Thursday, June 4, 2015

NY Central Art Supply

We've been hearing whispers over the past few years that New York Central Art Supply in the East Village may not last much longer.

Now, the following message comes from the Facebook page of James Carroll:

"Artists! Craftspeople! Art material fetishists! Lend me your ears!

New York Central Art Supply, the only remaining east village century-old mom-and-pop art supply store, is facing DIRE STRAITS.

If you need to buy paints, paintbrushes, frames, paper, burins, styluses, gold leaf sizing, paper clips ANYTHING- go to them. Our city is better with small local businesses like these. Their absence would be greatly felt throughout our communities of creative people that need spaces for artist's materials and people to appreciate them.

For every small low-income building turned into a luxury condo is a small business replaced with a corporate store, turning our city into a homogenized mall without any sense of individuality or joyful unpredictability.

62 Third Ave, NY, NY 10003

Run, don't walk!"

I was not able to get further information on what "dire straits" means, but I was assured they're not in immediate danger of closing.

The shop's been in business since 1905.

From the website: "In 1905, New York Central took its name from the train line that fascinated Benjamin Steinberg and represented to him the 'Great American Success Story.' Although the New York Central Line never passed anywhere near its namesake, perhaps the proximity of the Third Avenue El rumbling overhead constantly kept it in mind." The business is still run by the Steinberg family.


Caleo said...

Their surly staff certainly don't give one the impression they care about customers returning. Regardless, I will continue to go there for notebooks and hardcover journals, despite the staff, who could give the old Kim's video crew a run for their money in the nasty department.

Richard Federico said...

Places like New York Central, Pearl Paint, and Sculpture House were what made New York City the place to be if you were a serious artist on a college budget. These big art stores had the unique NYC clientele to grant them the ability to always have very specialized items in stock. The volume of business they conducted daily kept prices very reasonable and they were totally different animals from any art store out in the burbs. When I was in art school in the 80's, these three art suppliers along with Utrect Art were a must to make a pilgrimage with classmates almost every weekend! I always thought that the location relationship shared with all the biggest art schools of New York would keep these stores bustling in perpetuity! What changed?? I thought as long as college professors assigned work and students needed to build portfolios, these places would always be here. Then again, I thought all the artist lofts and galleries would always be in SOHO keeping it a thriving art community! Then Prada moved in and it was all over as the flood gates opened for posh retailers to move in and capitalized on the art scene. After a few years it was too expensive for even established artists to remain and the galleries fled also along with the art scene. The the big galleries now reside in that homogenized, ready-made space in Chelsea, but it has never been the same. I used to be confident NYC was the art capital of the world, but now I would highly doubt it.

Sophont said...

Richard; what changed?
Computer graphics; Photoshop, Painter, Illustrator, Quark, Indesign. Maya
No need for paint, paste-up or sculpture supplies when you can do it in software.

Richard Federico said...

Sophont, you are right, the computer age and software has certainly put a crimp in the sale of traditional art material, but art schools still have foundation courses where you have to work hands on with paint and canvas or clay and wire...etc. There is also the related arts like architecture or landscape design where students still construct scale mock-ups. Thought this would be enough to keep the fire burning. Oh well, I'm sure it's a combination of a few things that have these stores closing, including the convenience and cost saving advantages of online shopping. Many of these art suppliers are actually closing their brick and mortar stores and selling online exclusively. Still, not the same as physically going to the art store and mixing company with like minded people on a similar journey to yours.

Caleo said...

Sophont- Rather sad that so many people use a computer to create art as opposed to getting their hands dirty. A slow motion infantilization of our society at every level, from sending emails in place of writing letters, using GPS instead of looking and finding, and software instead of actual physical art.

Sophont said...

Caleo, you know, it really makes me sad that kids these days are no longer chiseling out their messages in clay tablets, using a sextant instead of looking and finding, and have their eyes glued to their Holmes stereoscopes instead of actual physical art.

Caleo said...

Snark doesn't really address the issue, and computer "art" can't really replace physical art or the production thereof, the way watching a band on Youtube doesn't replace seeing a live show, or purchasing music or Ebooks on amazon replace supporting actual bookstores and record stores run by real human beings. Millenials who need their Iphone to give them directions instead of simply looking for the place themselves, you know, the way the cavemen do it.
Too bad you're not mature enough to see the difference.

Sophont said...

Snark doesn't really address the issue, because THERE IS NO ISSUE. But it is kinda fun. Putting the word art in quotes after computer shows you are either a troll, or woefully misguided.

One relevant concrete example from the late 90's. I worked in a photo lab, we had one artist who would send in her traditional oil paintings to be photographed onto 8x10 transparency film so that the printer could use it for book covers. So yes, she was spending a lot at local art stores for paint and canvas, and messenger fees to deliver the paintings to us. She got a computer, and started sending us digital files for output onto 8x10 film. Her client (major book publisher) freaked out about the "fake computer art". So she paints 2 identical pictures, one traditionally, and one digitally. She sends the 2 transparencies to the publisher, and they can't tell the difference. (yeh, she even painted in the kodak color patches and edge of the copyboard on the digital file).

So at least in terms of commercial art, this experiment proved you are wrong, using the TOOL of a computer can replace the tool of a paintbrush. And it was the needs of commercial art that kept the art stores open.

Too bad you are not mature enough to deal with change, and understand these are not either/or issues. We can watch concerts on youtube AND then see their show live. Mark Zimmer, the programmer of Fractal Painter, would switch between physical and digital production when doing his art, he saw the two methods as complementary.

If the end result is all that matters, like the VAST majority of commercial art, then the method is irrelevant especially because it is opaque. If the process is intrinsic to the final result, like pieces in an art gallery or museum, then that may be relevant to your point.

In any case, debating this on a computer message board is by your premise participating in a slow motion infantilization of our society, so if you want to continue this discussion, message me your address and I will break out my quill pen and parchment so that the fine members of the United States Postal Service can deliver my missive forthwith.

Anonymous said...

Next you'll tell us "real" photos are only printed on tin.

Anonymous said...

For years I thought developers were trying to turn NYC into a string of ground floor franchise retail so the tourists from Cleveland would feel nice and comfy and not far from home.

But now I see they are trying to turn it into downtown Dubai so that billionaires have a place to feel nice and comfy and not far from home.

Einstein Junior said...

I consider it an enormous progress that you can buy now everything you possibly need online and have it delivered at your home almost always already the next day, instead of having to travel a long distance just to hear : we don't have it but we can order it for you, come back in a week or so.
It is clair that people who refuse to follow this progress, will sooner or later have to face the consequences

Pat said...

When I buy on-line I have the convenience of shopping at 3 in the morning in my slippers. When I buy at a brick and mortar store, I can, if I am lucky, have a conversation with the store clerk that often yields more information about what I am buying. Sometimes, if I am really lucky, the store clerk recognizes me from previous visits and I have a sense of community, however fleeting. These normal, human interactions used to be common, everyday experiences and are sadly getting harder to find as businesses fall to ever rising rent and competition from on-line commerce. I really do think I am not just an old hippie longing for the warm and fuzzy feelings of yesteryear, I believe you do get more value, in the long run, from personalized service. In a nutshell, nothing is for people these days. Additionally, employee abuse at Amazon is very well documented. Some people would bring back slavery if they could, if you want to support that, you should worry about the consequences and try to look at the big picture.

Sharon Knettell said...

Well yes , you can now all buy at Walmart art stores like Jerry's and Cheap Joe's where they know nothing.

No one else retailed beautiful handmade paper, so you kids will never know the pleasure of drawing on an exquisite piece of Ruscombe, TwinRocker, Arpa. All is left is mainly machine made. You don't know wove from, laid, abaca from cottonn rag, pigmented from dyed.

The depth of their knowledge will be gone- what does that matter- art is dead in NYC unless you are a CEO of arts like Koons.