Opening Benefit: Nurse Heroes & Women Who Dared
November 3, 2021
By DARYL RASHAAN KING, October 2021
Launching this fall, in the former home of Barney’s New York, Art House seeks to support the revitalization of New York City’s creative economy. 660 Madison Avenue will be the epicenter of year-round activities for galleries, museums, artists, and collectors, much like Cromwell Place in London’s South Kensington neighborhood. One of the principal questions asked is how to address “sustainability in the environment, the economy, and the arts?” After many months of quarantine, the art industry is bursting with the energy and a longing to socialize again. Moreover, art administrators across the world are aiming to create more elastic business models, after the sudden jolt of 2020.
Art House is the labor of Michael Plummer and Jeff Rabin, Co-Founders of Artvest Partners, and Geoff Fox, Principal of Touchstone Event Management. They understand that the art industry immediately needed something to revitalize the synergy, which was flowing through the streets before the pandemic. The owners want to provide an “evolving dialogue on critical sustainability issues impacting the environment, the economy, and the arts." Some artists had to add the effects of Hurricane Ida to their list of trauma. Art House subsidizes some of the resources that are necessary for the operation of an art business in New York City. 660 Madison Avenue will feature private salon viewing rooms, a VIP member’s club, and year-round flexible event spaces. What makes Art House even more special is access to office space, storage, private viewing rooms, and stands.
Most of these benefits come from the fact that Art House lives in the former flagship of Barney’s, an “institution” of the New York Fashion industry. As New York presents a month-long celebration of architectural design throughout Archtober, Spirit Halloween, America’s biggest Halloween retailer will occupy the space. Think of it as an offering of a Harajuku experience like no other! There is a sense of irony to Spirit’s occupation of the space, considering that the only reiteration of Barney’s that survived the bankruptcy is in Japan. However, a negative Covid-19 test, taken within 72 hours before flying to Japan and other strict requirements, is demanded.
With all tourism and short-term trips prohibited, even business travelers will find it hard to go anywhere in Japan. This follows the overall death of the department store as the American economy evolved with ecommerce. For many, Barney’s was not only a department store, it was a creative community space and a source of inspiration for emerging fashion designers. In many ways, Art House could be seen as the reincarnation of the historic retailer. Authentic Brands Group, the new owners of Barney’s, is working with the owners of Art House to make it possible. Department stores were places where a salesperson, without a college degree, could afford to live a fabulous life in New York City. Sadly, Barney’s failed to adapt to the pace of technology. Whereas the business’ elite image contributed to its financial decline, quarantine brought a lot of industry to a stand still.
Kulapat Yantrasast, of WHY Architecture, leads the renovation, alongside Brian Butterfield. The architectural firm is a multidisciplinary design practice, based in Los Angeles and New York City, including the embassy in Paris. 660 Madison is packed with architectural history. The former flagship store, itself, is part of the Getty Oil Building. It was designed by Emery Roth and Sons, who created many buildings which are signature monuments of New York’s architectural style.
The Beresford is one such building, formerly housing actress Phyllis Newman, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, actress Glenn Close, singer Diana Ross, former Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, actor Tony Randall, actor Roger Rees, fund manager Bill Ackman, reporter John Stossel, film producer David Brown, editor of Cosmopolitan magazine Helen Gurley Brown, chef and restaurateur Marc Murphy, and film director Mike Nichols. What does all of this have to do with Art House? Everything! It symbolizes old-school glamour in a way that could only be achieved by restoring a pre-existing space, as opposed to building something new.
The first exhibition will benefit Nurse Heroes, a non-profit dedicated to prospective nurses who need educational scholarships. Within three years, there will be a shortage of nurses across the West. Long considered to be only a female job, the role of nursing has been a platform for many women, who have unrealized dreams. Art House will occupy five floors of the building and likewise feature special window displays, as an homage to Barney’s. The Opening Benefit Event will be on November 3, 2021. It will feature 62 artworks by women, covering 2500 years and seven continents. It certainly helps that the founders of Art House started Artvest Partners, Touchstone Event Management, and TEFAF New York. WM
Daryl Rashaan King currently works as a Teaching Artist with Leap NYC; a Chef de Partie at CUT by Wolfgang Puck, The Four Seasons Tribeca; and the Vice President of the Asian American Film Lab. He is the founder/ principal of kokuoroi, a multidisciplinary creative studio. The studio focuses on problems derived from urban living, viewed through the perspective of King, a Brooklyn native. A graduate of Columbia University, who originally specialized in painting, some of King’s goals include obtaining both an M. Arch and an Expert Diploma in Culinary Arts. He would also like to pursue various art and design programs and to live abroad. King has already earned certificates from Parsons in Streetwear; completed part of the Sustainable Design Foundation at Pratt Institute; and volunteered in Cusco, Peru at the construction site of a new Lower School. His work has greatly evolved since taking an Information Architecture course focused on Future Cities, hosted by the Department of Architecture at ETH Zurich. A former varsity wrestler, King has hopes of learning and practicing new martial arts. When he isn’t working, enjoying music, or playing video games, King’s focus is on the future.view all articles from this author