This Side of Paradise: The Andrew Freedman Home in the South Bronx
For the urban adventurers among you, this is a great plan: hop on the 4 train, or the D train, and head up to the South Bronx, just one stop past Yankee Stadium. There you'll find a massive old limestone mansion, the Andrew Freedman Home, built by decree of its namesake's last will and testament in 1924 as, amazingly enough, a kind of homeless shelter (or, to put it more kindly, a retirement home) for the formerly well-heeled who had lost all of their money but not their manorial taste or sense of entitlement. Right? Those were the days. The Andrew Freedman Home abandoned its primary purpose in the 1980s, and though certain sections have remained open and active as, for a example, a day care center, or a community-events facility, most of the space has been sealed off for decades. Until now.
This Side of Paradise at the Andrew Freedman Home
This Side of Paradise at the Andrew Freedman Home is a one-of-a-kind exhibition for which curator Keith Schweitzer of No Longer Empty commissioned more than 30 artists to transform a wing's-worth of long-abandoned rooms in the mansion into a site-specific art installation. The result is not only a fun art show–some rooms are more clever, finished, spectacular than others, but that's to be expected at these sorts of events–but also a rare opportunity to wander through a time capsule of the splendorous past of the South Bronx's Grand Concourse. And because part of the assignment of This Side of Paradise was the make some sort of social or aesthetic commentary about the Bronx, past, present and/or future, there's a bit of bite to the whole thing as well.
We really enjoyed the whole adventure of visiting the Andrew Freedman Home (and, afterward, walked down the Grand Concourse a few blocks to check out the Bronx Museum, and then over to the Yankee Stadium subway stops), but here's a few of our favorite rooms from the This Side of Paradise show. How and Nosm collaborated on a very cool, perspective-skewing installation in which the walls are honey-combed with 3D cardboard cutouts, the floor mirrored, the lighting tricky, the entrance-way perilous (not really, but seemingly), the whole space loopy.
Photographer Sylvia Plachy revisits–and recreates–the same room, Room 246, she photographed for a Village Voice piece in 1980. Adam Parker Smith bedecks his "gallery" with fabulously ornate 3D-wallpaper made from jelly beans and butterflies, flowers and pearls. Adding to the sense of haunted-ness, much of the materials used in all of these installations were found within the Andrew Freedman Home itself, as the artists were granted free reign to rummage through abandoned rooms, and help themselves to whatever was left behind when the last tenants left some three decades ago.
This Side of Paradise at the Andrew Freedman Home Details
The Andrew Freedman Home is located at 1125 Grand Concourse in the Bronx, between McClellan East 166th Streets, two blocks from the D train and a couple of blocks more from the 4 train. This Side of Paradise exhibition is on view Thursday through Sunday, 1:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., from now through June 5. Admission is free. For more information, please see the No Longer Empty website, here.