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Lox, Bagels and Video Art: Russ and Daughters Becomes Pop-Up Gallery

By Serena Solomon | November 7, 2011 5:02pm | Updated on November 8, 2011 9:24am

LOWER EAST SIDE —  A schmear of avant-garde art is the latest pairing with bagels and lox.

In an unusual collaboration, the window of famed Lower East Side’s Russ & Daughters appetizing store has become the location of a pop-up art installation “Videobytes” for the James Cohan Gallery.

The 24-hour film loop displays the works of several artists through a television and speakers in the East Houston Street store’s window.

"There is a local history of pairing food, culture and art in this area," said Christine Minas, the administrative director at the James Cohen gallery located at 533 W. 26 St. 

A friendship between gallery owner James Cohen and shop's owners spawned the collaboration.

Russ & Daughters on the Lower East Side.
Russ & Daughters on the Lower East Side.
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

The installation, which will run through Dec. 2, spans 50 years of video art from pioneers such as Harry Smith to a younger generation including Japan’s Hiraki Sawa. The selections for the show were organized by Elyse Goldberg and Christine Minas.

In Smith's piece on display at Russ & Daughters, titled “Early Abstractions,” Minas described the video as a "moving painting."

"He is basically scratching and painting onto the actual film, so he is not filming anything,” she said. “A three minute film could take him up to three years to make because each piece is basically painted on."

The melding of progressive art with the store famous for delicacies such as herring and caviar may not be so much of a stretch, those familiar with the store's history said.

“A lot of these foods were considered avant-garde when they came out,” said a guide from the Brooklyn Tour, Isaac Comin, who was introducing a group of visitors to the New York institution on Monday.

"They managed to stay relevant while so many stores around them are now gone and they are as relevant as they ever were,” said Comin.

The independent spirit of the store has been evident throughout its history. In 1933 it became the first establishment to add "& Daughters" to its name rather then the usual "& Sons," according Russ & Daughters website.

A still from John Baldessari's
A still from John Baldessari's "Colorful Inside Jobs," one of the videos on display in the Russ & Daughter window.
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John Baldessari and Marian Goodman Gallery, Licensed by Electronic Arts Intermix

The importance of process and material is another common theme between the art and the store, according to Minas.

"There is a loose theme of process and material, because it is important to the artists and to Russ & Daughters," she said. "That is not an obvious thing when you are just standing outside looking, but they have that in-common."