BROOKLYN, N.Y. – I almost wish I hadn’t known anything about the Crest Hardware Art Show and had instead dropped by my neighborhood store for a box of nails only to be surprised by a photograph tucked in behind rows of paintbrushes, or a sculpture hung from the ceiling. I wonder how long it would have taken me to figure out that what I was seeing wasn’t some sort of whimsical prank, but rather a carefully selected gallery that also happens to be a True Value Hardware store. But I had heard about the show, and I sought it out, not knowing what to expect. Boy, was I impressed.
Everywhere I looked, on product shelves, on walls, on the ceiling were pieces inspired by the same products sold within the store—art and consumerism intertwined. The curator and owner, Joe Franquinha, installed more than 300 works throughout the store, from copper sculpture to aerosol paint, to crocheted yarn.
There is only one stipulation that has to be met in order for an artist’s work to be included in the annual show. “The artist either has to use hardware, or create something inspired by hardware,” Franquinha explained.
The intricate results force reflection on the unique beauty of everyday items that hold together our world. Nails, extension cords, metal keys—to the shoppers they are necessary purchases, but to the artists who participated, they became elements to be manipulated and turned into something exquisite.
“The store is an institution,” said Franquinha, referring to the 49-year-old retail landmark. The show helps build a bridge between the burgeoning art scene in the Williamsburg neighborhood and loyal Crest customers. It’s a chance for local artists, many of whom get their supplies from Crest, to liven up the community in a most unusual gallery setting.
For me, the show represents what’s so special about street art: It grabs you when you least expect it and makes you see something in a new way.
The Crest Hardware Art Show runs through July 30. Catch it at 558 Metropolitan Ave. in Brooklyn, New York.
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