What would happen if you stuck a restaurant in an art gallery?
The question would hardly have left your mouth before the high-society folk sitting round your table fainted from shock. Food and art aren’t typically things one would think to mix, although there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. There’s food at the movies; there’s food at the theatre; so why is there no food at the art gallery? (After all, good food is as much an art as good theatre.)
Adam Shopkorn wanted to combine his love of food and art, which resulted in Fort Gansevoort.
Located in the Meatpacking District, Fort Gansevoort occupies a Greek Revival row house. It’s an art gallery, first and foremost, but if you go around the side, there’s a barbecue take-out window on Little West 12th Street. There, you can order up and go enjoy your food in one of the plentiful public parks and sitting areas nearby. But, while it does seem to be a gallery first, that does not mean the gallery is more important than the food.
On Friday, October 2nd, Shopkorn invited members of the arts and food scene (and my fellow press-people), for a tour of the gallery and a sampling of barbecue.
On display through October 10th is Pieces of Advice x From a Pedestrian Point of View, which spans Fort Gansevoort’s three stories. Really, the installation is a combination of two different series by the artists, brothers Josh and Bennie Safdie (the filmmakers behind the recent film Heaven Knows What).
Pieces of Advice is Josh Safdie’s collage series — cutouts of black-and-white photographs blown up and printed on Masonite and plywood. The cutouts are eerie and effective, the juxtaposition of the photographs and phrases and markings written on them sometimes giving the sense of a dark irony.
From a Pedestrian Point of View is Bennie Safdie’s photography series — photographs of various stationary cars taken from stomach level. Again, contrast comes into play here. The cars stand stark against their backgrounds, elevating them onto a different, ethereal plain; or, the photographs are so close up or of such fine details, they become abstractions. Perhaps the most striking photograph features a man, back to the camera, reaches into the trunk of the hatchback — full of stacked cartons of eggs. All of the eggs sit peaceful and whole, except one which stands out among the rest.
Part of Shopkorn’s vision is to bring in new notable barbecue masters from around the country, similar to how an art gallery rotates installations and shows. This way, like the good gallery, there’s always something new to experience. At the time of my visit, the offerings were wet ribs and pulled pork or pulled chicken sandwiches.
While the ribs were about what you’d expect of a well made rack, the sandwiches bordered on the more gourmet and upscale. It wasn’t quite the saucy mess one might associate out of the typical barbecue sandwich. There was a tasteful amount of sauce smeared on the bun, topped with smoked meat, and sliced cucumber. One might be inclined to recoil at the thought of raw, crispy cucumber on a pulled pork sandwich, but it offered a nice contrast in texture and temperature that worked quite well.
Fort Gansevoort is an odd, fascinating, and quirky establishment which humbly promotes and redefines what is typically considered “high culture,” the kind of place that embraces contradiction and makes the unexpected expected — the kind of place you can only find in New York.