A Bowery Gallery’s ‘Curating Duo’ Gives The Gift of Pop-Up Art

presentKristy Leibowitz

The Hole, an art gallery at 312 Bowery run by former Deitch Projects curator Kathy Grayson, has hired a “curating duo” to take its art beyond its gallery walls. Yesterday, Laura O’Reilly, 25, and Derrick B. Harden, 30, hosted the opening of what they call “The Hole Pop Up,” at the Cappellini store in SoHo. The show, “Christmas in the Summer,” will be up till at least Monday, and consists of four works of art created by Ms. Grayson. All of them are oil paintings of “pixel distortion” images created from YouTube videos, but that’s not the interesting part: The interesting part is that none of the works are visible, since they are hidden inside of gift wrapping.

Last night, a MP3 audio tour of the show gave attendees a sense of what was behind the wrapping. “This was a painting based on an image manipulated from the 2003 Australian Open,” Ms. O’Reilly explained on one track. “It’s a profile of Serena [Williams] bobbing back and forth, awaiting a serve.” However, buyers won’t be able to unwrap their purchases and see what they’ve bought until they write a check. (The paintings range from $1,800 to $4,000, and Ms. O’Reilly says two of them have already been put on hold.)

To compliment the show, which will continue on to Los Angeles in December, a “Christmas in the Summer” CD featuring music tracks by Ms. O’Reilly and Mr. Harden will be sold at The Hole starting in late September.

“We’re basically an art piece in and of ourselves,” Ms. O’Reilly said. “This is the real deal Holyfield in terms of combining music and art in a real way.”

The duo is also curating a nightlife-themed exhibit for another temporary space, the Keeley Gallery on the Bowery. “Nightlife” opens Aug. 27, and will take attendees through a night in the life of New York City, from 10 p.m. till 7 a.m., via the work of three artists. True to the theme, the gallery will be open from 6 p.m. till midnight while the show is up.

“What’s different about the Bowery is that you could be walking by on the street at 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. and walk into an art show and ask, ‘What is this?’” said Ms. O’Reilly. “We wanted to hit home that that’s the difference between Chelsea and the Lower East Side.“

Though Ms. O’Reilly still lives on the Upper East Side where she was raised from the time she was six months old, she says, “Downtown represented where I always wanted to be.” She hopes to convince building owners with vacant spaces on the Bowery to let her use them for pop-ups. “I think landlords know that art is only adding value to the neighborhood. Instead of having an empty space, you might as well have an artistic project.”

Asked whether the pop-up art trend might die as the Bowery becomes more upscale, she pointed to the Hole’s ten-year lease and said, “I think it’s only going to get bigger.”