Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles

Michael Alan’s Living Installations Make Me Feel Alive. A Rambling About New York Today

I left New York for only 3 months this summer, headed to Berlin to finish writing a book in a quieter environment. When I got back at the end of September, I couldn’t believe how much it had changed. Yaffa Cafe closed. Culture Fixx was gone. Holiday Inn and 7-Eleven are everywhere. I know this happens and that things are cyclical, but it feels like New York is getting more vanilla at a higher frequency. I know people like to talk at length about the “good old days,” but to me the changing of New York is in a way totally disorienting. Just as I grasp to feel like I’m a part of something special, creative or artistic, it becomes another pub, or worse, chain store. I’m not sure how I feel about it or what the solution is other than acceptance, because leaving New York is not an option.


Sometimes little things make me feel the magic still. The Max Neuhaus piece in Times Square. The bar at “Spain” on 13th Street. Caffe Reggio. Mussels at Lucky Strike. I realize these are all places to eat or drink, (aside from the sound installation), but maybe that’s all that’s left of the creative spirit- a watering hole or place to eat that once witnessed “creative New York.” That said, I’m not negative or (too) jaded, I’m just trying to navigate how to deal with these changes. When I do find elements of “that spirit” I refer to, it seems like a small victory, an example of good winning over evil.


That long winded intro is because I want to talk about Michael Alan‘s “Living Installations,” which make me feel like New York is gonna be okay. It took me years to go to one of his events, not because I was turned off, but because I thought it was just for other artists- one of those live drawing things that I always feel uncomfortable at because I simply can’t draw. Last week’s event was particularly special, not only because I went (haha) but because it was at the fabled House of Collection- a loft in Williamsburg proper (not out in Bushwick) that is like an apartment-sized cabinet of curiosities. I read about it in the New York Times a few years ago and have looked for a reason to get invited there since. It is like a very well curated antiques store, possibly the inspiration for the set of Sleep No More, and totally transformative when you enter- there is no indication of what year it is or where you are, you just feel as though you are somewhere in the distant past, or the distant past interpreted by someone like David Lynch. (You can rent it, and I highly suggest you find a reason to).

The House of Collection and Alan’s Living Installations are only made better by each other, they work together to create the New York magic- art for the sake of art, creative abandon that just is. The evening was like an art salon. Alan and his models in the middle, constantly morphing and changing as he painted their bodies, or they sprinkled glitter, changed masks or positions to inspire people drawing, or along with the music for party goers who were simply there to observe the metamorphosis from live drawing to live art. Watching Alan at work was just as interesting, catching him when hit with inspiration then seeing him move a model or paint a shoulder to perfection. Alan is a gifted artist and painter (his works are beautiful), but this is about something else- this “sculpture” is made of…people…therefore ephemeral. He is making this piece just for the moment, for people to experience and to only refer to in memory. Sure, people snapped pictures, but photos can’t really capture what was going on. It is art intended solely for the experiential, nothing more. And it made me feel alive in New York again.


2 Responses to “Michael Alan’s Living Installations Make Me Feel Alive. A Rambling About New York Today”
  1. Michael Alan says:

    Yes we want to keep this place like it was…..I wouldnt wanna go to Rome and it to look like mexico………..

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