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Bizarre Bathroom Art Exhibit Draws Stares at Hell's Kitchen Storefront

By Mathew Katz | September 14, 2012 8:46am

HELL'S KITCHEN — You won't find this window display at Macy's anytime soon.

While some landlords have converted their empty storefronts into office space, one in Hell's Kitchen is featuring an odd art exhibit that has passersby doing double takes.

An arresting scene greets pedestrians from behind the window on the corner of West 45th Street and 11th Avenue. Inside, a full-sized bathroom can be seen, complete with a plastic female mannequin bathing herself while surrounded by all kinds of gadgets, including a laptop and small television.

The display takes up the entire storefront — members of the public can't walk in — and also features faded magazines and what appears to be a leather office chair with a hole cut in it, sitting on top of a toilet.

Titled "Welcome to the 21st Century," the odd installation was put together by Amy Breslaw, owner of Mac Felder Plumbing, which occupies the top floor of the building at 559 W. 45th St.

She first put it in the storefront facing 11th Avenue eight years ago as a commentary on technology's rising role everyday life.

"You're constantly working nowadays," she said. "You have computers, cell phones, iPads. Literally, you can't even go to the bathroom without working."

Breslaw, who is proud of Mac Felder's status as a women-owned plumbing business in a male-dominated field, capped off the display with a sign featuring her name and phone number.

Over the time it's been around, the display has brought in a few calls, but Breslaw strained to connect the scene to the work her company does.

"We have a 24-7 company," she said, speaking of how the window scene aims to show how constantly plugged in people have become — even when in the bathroom. 

"If you're going to work 24-7, we can at least make it comfortable for you," she joked of the toilet display. 

The scene — especially the mannequin and the cushioned toilet — has long fascinated passersby.

"When I first saw it, I thought it was a real woman," said Abram Goldstein, 39, who first passed the storefront after taking a job nearby six months ago. "I don't like it at night."

Workers next door at the Pom Pom Diner said the "weird" display creeped them out for a while, but they eventually got used to it.

Breslaw admitted that she hasn't touched it in a while.

"Yeah, we should probably clean it up a little."

The display sits in stark contrast to Gotham West, the massive new 1,200-unit residential development being built across the street. With a huge influx of new neighbors set to come to the previously quiet block, Breslaw said she might be open to finally renting out the space.

"There's always a possibility," she said.

"Either way, it's good for businesses. We have a whole bunch of new neighbors coming, and they always need a plumber."