Volume 22, Number 18 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | September 11 - 17, 2009

Downtown Express photo by Jefferson Siegel 

Grace Kalambay, singing “Ordinary Sentiment,” left, received some enthusiastic accompaniment aboard the “art train.”

Locked out of swank galleries, they go underground

By Jefferson Siegel

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination,” wrote Henry David Thoreau. 

An art collective called Lowbrow Society for the Arts put Thoreau’s words into practice when they held an art show aboard rolling mass transit two weeks ago.  

“Move! A Wearable Art Gallery and Celebration on a Subway Train” found more than 100 musicians, artists and other costumed performers packed into the last three cars of a J train to Brooklyn as participants painted, sang, danced and performed acrobatic displays.  

The collective, founded by New School students Najva Sol and Lenora Jayne Thornton, wants to make art fun, accessible and public. 

“We have an entire community of artists and creative folks who have no place to show their work,” Sol explained. “There wasn’t enough space to show art that wasn’t either a fancy gallery or a cliquey art group.” 

Surprised evening commuters appeared to enjoy the spontaneous exhibition as much as the throng of art fans who gathered in front of the New Museum on the Bowery to join the creative pilgrimage across the river and back. 

Brigitte Golde, a psychology student at Fordham, wore a helmet filled with cups of paint and a sign reading, “Paint Me!”

Art, she suggested, can be used “to open up minds when they’re in a public atmosphere, to pay attention to your neighbors, to do something for your community.”


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