Art House: an extraordinary new hub for art galleries, philanthropy, and ideas

Art House Facade Rendering, 660 Madison Avenue.

Opening Benefit: Nurse Heroes & Women Who Dared

Art House New York

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. 

Art House Facade Rendering, 660 Madison Avenue (interior).

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. 

Michael Plummer, Geoff Fox, Jeff Rabin.

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 King

Daryl King is an architecturally influenced artist, based in Brooklyn, New York. His passion for art and architecture is only matched by an equal interest in food. He is the founder and director of 国王roi, kokuo roi, an ever expanding firm that consumes everything around it and regurgitates it out in the form of something spectacular. With plans for future discussions, events, exhibitions, and some non-profit work, Daryl is inspired to make his immediate environment quintessential in some way; however, he is greatly distracted by listening to music, playing PS3, and streaming media online.

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