Collective Hardware, Warholesque Art Space, Faces Eviction

by BILLY GRAY · May 19, 2010

Collective Hardware, the five-floor arts space on Bowery and Delancey, is in hot water over what the landlord alleges is $1 million in back rents. Calling all potential investors: the modern day Factory needs your help.

Gordon Lau, a spokesman for 169 Bowery's landlord, cites permit issues in addition to overdue rent as reasons for the Collective's entrance being padlocked last week:

"The way they're using the building is illegal. They do not have the proper certificate of occupancy to run events or parties, and they do not have a public assembly permit. That creates a safety issue for the unsuspecting public."

You know, the kind of public that walks into random buildings completely unaware of what's going on inside. It's hard to imagine even the most clueless visitor being unhappy with or threatened by Collective Hardware's happenings. The site includes a 3,000 square foot first floor gallery and a cafe, clothing boutique, hair salon (which occasional features the redoubtable barbers from Astor Street Hairstylists), TV station, greenhouse and production studio on upper levels.

Past events include a Haiti benefit with guests like Shepard Fairey and a Fund Art Now bash that featured the work of Zach Hyman, who will be relegated to the fringes of third-string MTV reality program The City if Collective Hardware gets the boot.

Times are tough for the city's cultural institutions, particularly those on the rapidly gentrifying Bowery. Way off-Broadway theater venue Dixon Place left its Bowery home in 2008 due to, you guessed it, stratospheric rent increases. Luckily, it resettled on Chrystie Street just a stone's throw away from Collective's current site. And arts groups across the city felt a chill down their spines when Michael Bloomberg unveiled his doomsdecade budget earlier this month.

Collective Hardware co-founder Ronnie Rivellini hopes his spot can buck the trend and isn't shy about asking for help. In an email addressed to the spaces "dear friends" he wrote that the Collective:

"...has been a focal point for NYC art culture and even compared to Warhol's Factory . . . We need a new lead investor, a white knight, so to speak, that shares our vision and can help us at this final step."