We met with Cheryl McGinnis, curator of the Prow Art Space, in the jewel-like space known as the “Prow” of the Flatiron building. The Prow is the glass-enclosed space at the tip of the Flatiron building. For five years, Cheryl curated the Prow Art Space at the landmark building at 23rd and 5th Ave. In that time she curated challenging and visually compelling exhibitions as well as dance performances. It was a popular art destination one of the most easily accessible and viewed in the city! An estimated 500,000 pedestrians a day pass the windows of the Prow.
Images of some of the installations spread wildly across social media. Most recently a photo taken by Michele Palazzo of Chelsea Hrynick Browne’s “Flake” installation taken during the blizzard of 2016 went viral. (top image)
Cheryl ended this sparkling exhibition with a dance performance choreographed by world-renown choreographer and dancer Dion Wilson. Dion a former principal dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater choreographed a piece to compliment Hryick’s “Flakes” exhibition. It was performed in the Prow in between Chelsea’s hanging flakes.
Christina Lihan’s installation “Constructing Manhattan-From the Razors Edge” stopped us in our tracks one night when walking down 5th. Lihan recreated some of Manhattan’s landmark buildings and structures in cut paper. Viewers walking past the installation had the sense of a city looking in at itself. Lihan started at the southern tip of Manhattan that she placed at the tip of the Prow and moved northward recreating many of Manhattans most famous structures. She even included the Flatiron building itself. The exhibition was visually stunning at night with the bright white paper boldly contrasted against the blackness of the night.
Then suddenly in March of 2016, it all came to a screeching halt. An executive from Sprint called to inform Cheryl that it was over. Sprint had a different vision for the Prow Space, and it didn’t include art. Cheryl noted on social media that Hrynick’s “Flakes” would be the last exhibition. We read Cheryl’s post and wondered what Sprint would do with Prow now. We were shocked walking down 5th, one day, seeing the Prow Art Space filled with hanging posters advertising the latest cell plans from Sprint. Angry New Yorkers grabbed their pitchforks and torches and headed for the Flatiron building. Ok, maybe New Yorkers are a little short on pitchforks, so they revolted on social media instead. Remember the Flatiron Building is catty-corner from Madison Square Park where the MSP Conservancy recently commissioned Martin Puryear to build a thirty-foot tall sculpture titled Bling. This neighborhood likes its art.
The short story is that eventually Sprint called Cheryl and decided that it wanted art back in Prow Art Space. This time, however, the Prow Artspace would also be home to Cheddar TV. Cheddar, which is tilted toward millennials, says it “is a live news network that sits at the intersection of technology, media, business and culture. Cheddar will broadcast daily live shows from the ground-level curved corner of the Sprint store situated in the Flatiron Building”. The Cheddar Studio is in the Flatiron Prow and uses the city streets and the art in the Prow as its backdrop. It is a mutually beneficial partnership. Cheryl McGinnis acts as curator and the Cheddar TV Arts/Culture correspondent. Cheryl says “I’ve been curating the Flatiron for 5 years with the belief that the viewing of art benefits everyone and therefore should be accessible to all. Now that Cheddar Life has joined the space, I am thrilled to have them as a partner in this collaborative effort. They are as committed as I am to making art accessible to all.”
Cheryl McGinnis is delighted to invite all to come by the Flatiron Prow Art Space to welcome the art space back into existence and to meet Garret Kane, the first artist to exhibit in this new configuration with Sprint and CheddarLife. Friday, October 21st. 6-7:30PM
The Flatiron building is located at 175 5th Ave. at the intersection of Fifth Ave. and Broadway at 23rd. St. Cheddar TV can be found at cheddar.com and @Cheddar on Twitter and Instagram.
Photos // Courtesy of Cheryl McGinnis