There’s clearly something amiss at the downtown location of New York’s Marlborough Gallery this month. A wall has been erected about midway through the Broome Street space, with an ominous-looking doorway that resembles a mousehole for a child-sized human. Duck through it and you encounter “Thinkers,” a pint-sized pop-up nightclub and performance space masterminded by the artists Andrew Kuo and Scott Reeder as part of their collaborative exhibition It Gets Beta, which currently inhabits both the downtown gallery and Marlborough’s Chelsea space.
“‘Thinkers’ is a reference to all the things that happen when you drink and perform,” explains Kuo. Since the club’s opening night, on February 21, for which the artist John Riepenhoff cooked up a pizza party, drinking has been a key element. When I popped by last Sunday evening during a rousing performance by the synth-rock duo TV Baby, the beverage of choice was Budweiser, but wine and spirits are offered free of charge as well. Downtown artists and musicians mingled with pedestrians who were drawn in from the street by the ruckus. The band performed with reckless abandon to a cheering crowd; it was hard to believe it was 7 p.m. on a Sunday. Apparently, the neighbors who live above the gallery felt the same way. “TV Baby drove them into a rage!” Kuo says.
But there is one area of the darkened space where rowdiness is kept to a minimum; tucked in the front corner of the nightclub is a bronze Rodin “Thinker” sculpture, lent to the club by a collector close to the gallery. On the packed opening night, a security guard ensured no drunken guests accidentally knocked the very valuable piece, which is camouflaged by the room’s black walls. On Sunday, however, empty cans of Bud decorated its pedestal. “It’s meant to preside over the happenings,” says Kuo.
In addition to the TV Baby show, those happenings have included a live Know-Wave radio broadcast, a guitar jam by Endless Boogie’s Matt Sweeney and Jesper Eklow, and a digital drum circle—usually something “simple, emotional, or funny,” says Kuo.
“Thinkers” runs through March 28. Go to marlboroughchelsea.com for schedule of events.