By INNA DESILVA
The Bowery has played host to CBGB, homeless bums and, more recently, upscale museums, hotels and bars. But now there’s an underground art scene straight out of the debauched ’60s era of Andy Warhol’s Factory.
Collective Hardware, housed in a rundown building between Broome and Delancey streets that used to be Weiss Hardware, has nothing to do with wrenches. Instead, it’s a five-floor party-studio-gallery-music space filled with a never-ending parade of pretty people, downtown artists and hangers-on.
Last Thursday, at a launch party for the nonprofit Fund Art Now, jazz floated through the first-floor gallery from a rented Steinway. On the second floor, members of the cool set were lounging, either getting a trim from the Astor Place haircutters while sipping a no-brand cocktail from a makeshift bar or participating in a séance — there’s an oversized hand-painted Ouija board on the floor.
“I can give an unknown artist an opportunity to show in a place that consistently attracts tastemakers and patrons of the arts,” says Stuart Braunstein, a self-proclaimed “urban instigator” and deejay who launched the space with his business partner, Rony Rivellini, in 2007. The buzz about their venture has grown ever since.
“Where else can you meet MIT think-tank guys, Astor Place haircutters, beautiful models/actors and high-profile gallerists?”
Warhol’s Factory, the art studio where the pop artist made silk-screens from 1962 to 1968, drew all sorts of artists, actors and celebrities (from Dylan to Factory-made “Superstars” such as Edie Sedgwick), who made music and movies among the druggy scene.
Braunstein never met Warhol but was inspired to create a similar environment by Factory alumnus, artist and friend Ronny Cutrone.
The building’s top three floors (which house offices, artist studios and plenty of hard-partying scenesters) are off-limits unless you’re invited. Now Braunstein has a newly minted liquor license, and says he’s negotiating to open a rooftop restaurant.
Andy Warhol, welcome to 2010.
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Special Guest Contribution from Stuart Braunstein of Collective Hardware.
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