The term ‘thrift store’ can bring a number of things to mind. A summertime pop-standard, perchance? Or maybe visions of ‘70s sequined jackets hung alongside dusty knick-knacks? How about that never-been-used golf bag gathering dust in our grandparents’ basement? Whatever comes to mind, the old saying rings true – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The “Re-Thrifted” exhibition at Sacred Gallery is a testament to that – a collection that brings new purpose to those ubiquitous, old wood-framed landscape and velvet Elvis painting we’ve long since donated.
“It’s a bunch of great artists who put their egos aside and participate in one goofy show where everyone can come out and have fun,” says Kevin Wilson, the gallery director and the curator of the exhibition. Each of the 27 artists in the exhibition chose their own second-hand find and brought new life to it. “All the artwork came from thrift shops, yard sales, flea markets and estate sales,” Wilson explained. We’re talking cherubs turned nightmarish ghouls, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man lurking behind a once-pleasant cityscape, or the Virgin Mary going full-on Princess Leia.
So how did they come up with this wacky trash-to-treasure exhibition? “I've always liked the idea of taking junked art and turning it into something where it can have a new life on someone's walls,” Wilson says. It’s an idea that seems to really resonate with the community too, “We weren't expecting so many artists to be on board with this project but everyone really came through on this one.” Including artists a bit more notorious – on October 29th, “Re-Thrifted” inadvertently found itself on the same page as Banksy during his New York residency. The street artist had been busy doing his own re-thrifting at Housing Works, where he’d hung up an oil painting that he dubbed “The Banality of the Banality of Evil” and added some of his own work atop the original. “It was just luck and timing,” says Wilson. “Personally, I found Banksy's piece fantastic. Housing Works could really use that money, so for him to donate a piece for a good cause — that gives him some major points in my book.”
Since it opening on November 7th, “Re-Thrifted” has been drawing in plenty of New Yorkers lookin’ for a laugh — and maybe even a great piece of art to bring home. The first day brought in an impressive crowd, between 400-500 people, with a steady crowd coming through each day since then to check out the artwork. “The response has been far greater than I ever expected,” Wilson says. “It's nice to see people buying the artwork, and it lets us see that what was left for gone is now going to have a second life in someone's home.”
The exhibition closes at the end of the month, when the artwork will make its way to its new owners, so swing by soon. “Come out before the 30th to see it!” says Wilson. “You'll be sure to get a few good laughs in!”
Sacred Gallery NYC
424 Broadway 2nd Floor Rear (Between Canal and Howard)
New York, NY 10013
Monday – Friday, noon to 8 p.m.