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Art Scene Asks How to Fit a Large Metal Pipe in a Tiny Gallery

By Serena Solomon | March 5, 2013 12:31pm

LOWER EAST SIDE — The latest installment in the Lower East Side art scene: how to fit a round pipe into a square gallery.

In the single-piece exhibition, "Cave," Brooklyn artist Charles Harlan sought to puzzle passersby as to how the corrugated cylinder with its 10-foot radius fit through JTT Gallery's 7-foot-6-inch glass doors on Suffolk Street.

"'How the hell did they fit that in there?' That is what I was thinking," said Genaro Urueta, an architect who works in a nearby office.

The piece didn't strike Urueta as art at first, but rather something he might deal with during his workday.

"I look at it as a piece of material," he said. "At the moment, it looks like it's just been stored in there."

Peyton Roldan, a local resident for the past eight months, theorized the installation took place in pieces.

"I assume there was some assembly in there," he said, pointing inside the comparatively diminutive gallery space.

When it came to providing an answer to the riddle, the artist's agent and gallery owner, Jasmin Tsou, remained tight-lipped as to how the installation occurred.

"What Charles likes is to keep it a mystery, to keep secrets, but allow people to wonder," she said.  The artist was not available for an interview.

"It took a lot of planning - about two, three months of figuring out how to do it," said Tsou. "Once we executed it, it took a only a few hours."

Despite the secrecy behind the cylinder, a nearby building's super Pablo Sanchez, said he saw the simple installation at JTT.

"They took out the front of the store and put it in there," he said.

When Sanchez walked past one day, the gallery’s doors and the glass and framing surrounding it were removed and the cylinder was being slid in.

"Now I see a lot of people in there looking and a lot of kids playing on it," he said.

The exhibition's press release lists numerous mysteries of varying degrees such as the Valley Temple of Sphinx and the unknown methods the ancient Egyptians used to cut and remove stones.

The most recent inspiring puzzle for Harlan sits in his parent's hardware store — a huge pickle in a bottle where the mouth of the bottle is far smaller than the pickle, according to the press release.

"What is really fun about this project is that the neighborhood has really been embracing," she said.