Happy New Year/Dan Friel
Showpaper 42nd St. Gallery
Saturday, January 22
Since October, nestled among imposing buildings like Pfizer headquarters and the Helmsley Hotel, an East 42nd Street storefront has hosted an unlikely tenant: the Showpaper 42nd St. Gallery, a nonprofit, diy, all-ages performance and exhibition arena with a full-on “indie video arcade,” open to the public six days a week.
Even more unusual is the source of the venture’s funding. Showpaper secured the midtown space through a Chashama program, which gives artists steeply discounted access to unused commercial spaces. “Showpaper applied to use the space as a place for cover artists to expand their ideas into a physical space,” said coordinator Joe Ahearn. They then invited cracked indie video-game connoisseurs Babycastles, their collaborators from the Silent Barn, to use part of the space for an arcade. Babycastles then turned to Kickstarter and quickly raised $13,000 toward that effort. The space is staffed by volunteers and takes donations at the door.
Alas, this is all temporary; on January 28th, the space will close their doors with a final blow-out dance party, courtesy of DJs Dirty Finger, Anton Glamb, and Hiro Tha Jap. But the shows held here so far have been immense: Brooklyn bands like Ducktails and the So So Glos — and out-of-towners like Quiet Hooves — have graced the stage, and the art installations changed each month. In the Babycastles Arcade, games have been rotated every two weeks, each set a well-curated and and esoteric selection. About 50 games total were featured, some of them re-coded versions of mainstream games, others completely independent creations, each housed in a custom artist-made cabinet (or in some cases, a teddy bear).
Saturday night was one of the final live shows in the space. Dan Friel and the homemade spaghetti of wires in his suitcase headlined, along with bands Happy New Year, and Philip Seymour Hoffman (no, not that one), and attachedhands.