Continuing on from my mission yesterday, I stepped back out into the freezing drizzle this morning to go hit some shops downtown to finish up my Christmas shopping. My first destination was to be Pearl River. If you're not familiar with it, Pearl River is a somewhat sprawling emporium of goods with an Asian theme. It's cool and -- most enjoyably -- it's cheap. When you remove items procured therein from the context of chintzy mass-production, they're lovely to behold. The original location of Pearl River was over on Canal Street, but they moved to a comparatively upscale spot on Broadway a few years back. You should certainly go check it out.
In any case, as I strolled down Mercer Street, I saw a sight that made my heart sink. Just crossing Broome Street, I looked up towards 55 Mercer. The entire building was obscured by scaffolding. Under closer scrutiny, I saw a massive sign hanging in the ground floor window, soliciting the entire building for rent. I frowned.
As I wrote in this lengthy post from two years back, I spent some time back in the late 80s and early 90s working at 55 Mercer Street Gallery as a gallery sitter. This was back when the neighborhood still retained a fading whiff of its bohemian character (as opposed to the gaudy shopping district it is today). The gallery occupied that space at 55 Mercer for thirty-nine years, making it -- I believe -- the second oldest art co-op in the city. I can only guess that the spiraling rent finally got the better of them. I don't remember the last time I ducked into the gallery, but I loved knowing it was there -- a last vestige of Soho's arty past. Now gone forever.
With a bit of Googling, I learned that the gallery has since moved to a new space in Long Island City. While I'm relieved that they're still in operation, it still makes me sad that they can no longer afford to stay in the neighborhood that spawned them, but then -- that does seem to be the way of this city.