Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

VANISHED

This past summer, while summing up Bleecker Street's Luxe Blitz, I wrote: "Today, from 10th Street all the way northwest, the only businesses left on Bleecker that aren't high-end mall stores or intimately connected to Sex & the City are the art gallery A Clean, Well-Lighted Place (since 1976) and the 22-year-old Arleen Bowman boutique."

And then there was one.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place is gone after 36 years. A "Store For Rent" sign hangs in the window.

The realtor crows in the listing, "This is the 1st time in over 3 decades this Store has become available! Located in the heart of the Far West Village Gold Coast Retail Mecca along side Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Michael Kors and INTERMIX."


today

Of course, it was impossible for Tom Martinelli's little gallery and frame shop to last here, not with Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Juicy Couture, and all the rest squeezing and clawing, spreading like a virus along a street filled with red-soled, toddling vampires out for a fix, trying to be the next Carrie Bradshaw, trying to swallow the city whole.

In 2008, Sarah Jessica Parker, the original Carrie who helped launched the luxification of western Bleecker with one bite of a pink-frosted cupcake, talked to Emily Nussbaum at New York Magazine about how she worried that "a friend who owns a framing shop will get priced out."

The cruel irony is too obvious to mention.

As for the Arleen Bowman boutique, last Mohican, you are now in New Bleecker's sniper sights.


2009

Further reading:
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place
Bleecker's Luxe Blitz
Manatus
More Jane, Less Marc

17 comments:

EV Grieve said...

When everything is gone, will they start feeding on each other?

JAZ said...

Thank god that spot is now vacant - that would make such a great Marc Jacobs popup boutique!

Gotta laugh at Sarah Jessica Parker being concerned with her friend being priced out. I wonder if she ran to Bowery Bar after that interview to drown her sorrows.

esquared said...

Bleecker St. is now a "Clean, Well Lighted Place" where its inhabitants are adrift, empty and aimless, thus the desire to own lux goods to fill that void. The new Bleecker St. is now all a nothing ... only that and light is all it needed and a certain cleanness and order. Some live in it and never feels it but it all is nada y pues nada y nada y pues nada.

And before consumption of these lux goods, the new Bleeckerians pray this : Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada...

Marty Wombacher said...

That's too bad. And now the dreading feeling of wondering what this space will become.

Anonymous said...

Marty, it will surely become a Shake Shack, outpost of Magnolia Bakery, or perhaps a (pretentious) craft coffee bar like Stumptown. Or an Americal Apparel, or Brooklyn's equivalent, Brooklyn Industries...

chummy's mum said...

It is so sad to walk down that strip now... Can't there be a happy medium? The lux boutiques can stay up on Mad. And the West Vill remain somewhere circa 1994. Dalton's cawfee on Hudson, Kim's on Bleecker.

Katrink said...

"red soled toddling vampires out for a fix" - that is just plain poetic.

randall said...

Hmmmm. At anon 11:00, which is the lesser of two evils; magnolia/shake shack/stumptown OR starbucks/dunkins/subway?

Jeremiah Moss said...

randall, this is the perennial question that can never be answered.

there are other choices.

randall said...

yeah, but it seems like the other choices don't have enough backing right now. They're like a third party presidential candidate.

Face it, the pendulum has swung too far out right now, it'll work its way back, but we may not be around to see it.

MarianneNY said...

I've lived in the neighborhood since 1988 and Arlene Bowman's shop was already open when I moved in. Along with the Hudson Paper card shop, Kim's video, Susan Parrish (vintage quilts), Nostrati, Pierre Deux, Kelter Malce (folk art), every unique, independent store has been replaced by a high-end chain. When did Bleecker Street turn into Madison Ave? I feel for Arlene (yes, a real person), and bemoan the loss of the Village charm.

Sabodog said...

I grew up down the street from "A Clean well lighted place" . And after years of walking around NYC feeling all disconnected and alienated by all the changes I just decided to accept it, it is the nature of NY to remake itself every generation (or even faster). It is non-the-less is good to remember the things we loved about the city we knew back in the day, just try not to let it irk you too much. I try (though not always successfully) to live in the present and look to the future with an open mind.

Jackofwits said...

Sabodog, I understand about how it is every generations right to remake New York City in its own image.

It's just that THIS generation remakes every part of New York City with the SAME stores that every other part of New York City has. Once upon a time people came to this city dreaming of starting THEIR OWN business. Now people dream of opening a franchise of someone elsels business.

charles adams said...

my name is charles adams, i opened a clean well-lighted place probably in 1973 or 74. it was originally on the east end of the same block. i bought the lease at 363 after a year down the street for a grand total of $3,000. from a friend who had an antiques store at 363 called pilgrims progress. the best part of it was my landlord, mr yee. his family lived upstairs. mr yee owned laundries in the area. the rent was$300 a month the entire time i owned the gallery. i sold the gallery in august 1979 to tom martinelli who had been one of my best customers. tom had been working in his famies business, commercial printing, until then. i grew up in and moved back to lubbock texas. i moved to new york for the sole purpose of being part of the gay sexual revolution. my years in the west village shaped my life. i stayed in the gallery business in texas and have been able to make a big difference in this area of texas by founding a non profit and helping build an arts district based partly on west beth. every day young talent arrives in new york from the heart of the country. new york allows them to sharpen their skills and focus their gifts. when they move back, or move on they carry a chunk of the city with them.

Anonymous said...

As an artist, who recently left the city after 23 yrs, I'd like to say; "Beautifully said Charles Adams".

My years in NYC did shape my life and my work.
However, It's no longer possible for young (or for that matter, any) artists to create there anymore, unless they are funded by rich parents. How can anybody spend time "creating" when a studio apt is on average $2500.00 per month? (and that's the low end of "average") That sort of rent is not "time friendly".

I will always be grateful for my many years there, when, as you mentioned, the city was a sexual playground and unlike any other place on earth. I do carry, again, as you said, a chunk of it with me.

Anonymous said...

a lot of you guys sound like the old itilian men in the village in the 60's and 70's complaining about all the fagots running the italian shops out and opening trendy new stores. we are all part of the change. if i don't control the change someone else will. the dream is always just out of reach unless you live the dream your in.

Anonymous said...

@1:41 What?? "Live the dream your (should be spelled "you're") in? Sounds like "feel good/self help" BS. Those of us who choose to deal with reality see things differently, i.e.: what's actually happening around us. Read the comments under "Luxe Bleeker St." That should give you a better idea of what's going on in the city (if you actually care at all).