“My goal is when you’re looking at my work, you can hear horns honking, smell restaurants, and feel dirt fall in your eyes,” says Lois Cremmins, an East Village-based artist. She says of her collage series You Never Know What’s Around the Corner, now on display in the Roger Smith Hotel lobby, “it’s a response to the cacophony encountered daily on the streets of New York.”
Here we go through some select pieces, exploring how the layering of paper and paint that comprises the work reflects the city’s layered visual vitality.
“I not only paint, but I stamp, shmear and I rub and I mix.” She points at the windows across the top. “This is stamping. Is it windows? Is it bricks? Is it the basement grates on the sidewalk? It’s all of it. There’s a certain light in the West Village that I was thinking of when I created this piece.”
“They tore down a big ugly building, but for a long time it was beautiful,” said Cremmins, about the old Cooper Union Engineering Building near Astor Place. “I used to love to go past there and enjoy the newly opened space. Pretty soon there was a big hole in the ground, and now there’s a glass highrise.”
“This is a rare occasion where I use an image [the One Way sign] that I have taken with my cell phone and printed out. I don’t do that often, but it just felt right here. I could have done my wonky lettering, but it wouldn’t have been New York.” She points to the bottom-left corner of the piece. “This is a hole. You might trip and fall in.”
“This piece makes me think about the summer, when you’re walking around in the evenings. You’re hot as can be and everybody’s air conditioners are buzzing, making you feel hotter and hotter.”
Here, Cremmins used a photograph in the lower-left corner. “That is from a great day. It’s a random moment: I was standing and maybe 50 or 60 guys and girls came down on skateboards. They kept going and going and going.” Around that picture she “put the sky in, the tree in. Once I started adding these elements, I thought, that doesn’t look like New York! Let’s pretend this is Florida.”
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