Opulent Decay at Storefront for Art and Architecture's 30th Anniversary Bash

Across the 5 Beekman Street 9-story atrium at Storefront's 30th Anniversary Gala
(Photo by Carly Otness)

It’s difficult to sum up the events of “Thirty Something” in writing: The gala that took place Friday in the New York Financial District’s gilded decaying treasure Temple Court to celebrate SoHo non-profit gallery Storefront for Art and Architecture’s 30th anniversary was a multi-sensory spectacle, as avant-garde as one would expect from a characteristically rebellious institution. The more-than-600 guests had quite a bit to take in. 

Lights installed by Worldstage on the ground floor of the crumbling downtown palace’s mammoth atrium illuminated nine stories of its formerly-luxe interior, and radical opulence pervaded the top floor, where the 18th-century glass ceiling offered views of the Storefront logo sitting prominently on the façade of the iconic Woolworth Building to the west, and the sinuous grooves of Frank Gehry’s 8 Spruce Street tower to the east. Adding to dazzling visuals was a display of artwork by the likes of Daniel Arsham and Shirin Neshat, part of the evening’s silent auction


Architectural luminaries abounded: ARTINFO found OMA’s New York principal Shohei Shigematsu, unsurprisingly, surrounded by an enthralled group of listeners (he’s quite known for his wry sense of humor). Storefront board member Charles Renfro of DS+R took the microphone to shower the non-profit with accolades shortly before Mary Miss, landscape architect and artist, and Steven Holl, who permanently perforated the façade of the Storefront with Vito Acconci in 1992, stepped into the spotlight to accept special honors. While Acconci did not attend in person, a sound installation he created for the event, “You are Here (& there, too, etc.),” 2013 — his own vocal narrative of Storefront’s lengthy history of exhibitions — provided an illusion of his presence. 

The passing of dessert trays and subsequent grabbing of fistfuls of candy vitamins marked the gala’s transition to afterparty. Artist and designer Jon Santos switched to his DJ alter ego, shutting off his looped sound installation “Remorse Code” (a re-coding of the 1981 song “Telegraph” by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, accompanied by a live telegraph operator) to man the turntables. A corner room, its peeling paint illuminated by scattered blue lights reflected by the temporary disco ball, provided a provisionary dance floor until, sadly, we were all scooted out around 11 p.m.

Thirty years of similarly extraordinary spectacle are hard to match, which makes it difficult to predict what the next 30 years of Storefront will bring. “In an ideal world we would not exist,” Storefront director Eva Franch told ARTINFO after the festivities. “Experimentation and reflection would happen everywhere in our everyday life, but while that is not the case, we will keep on doing what we do, to show that a different, more radical and  profound way of doing things, is possible and necessary.”

To see images from the event, click on the slideshow.