From Gallery To Grocery, Eisenberg Grocery & Deli, Set To Be The Hippest Bodega In NYC

by Rachelle Hruska · April 6, 2009

    Go HERE for more photos by J.T. WHITE and TAG YOURSELF and YOUR FRIENDS!

    This Saturday, Heist Gallery at 27 Essex st reopened as "Eisenberg Grocery & Deli" (see photos below), and, though they are sad to close down the gallery's walls, many exciting things are in store for this hip neighborhood bodega.  To celebrate, they opened their doors with the presentation of Ryan Watkins-Hughes' "Yes we Canned" Bodgea reception showcasing his "Shopdropped" cans.  You can read more about the project below.  The after party took place at our favorite new West Village hotspot, De Santos, where J.T. caught some of the action. 

    EXHIBITION: Ryan Watkins-Hughes: From Gallery to Grocery: Yes, we canned. RECEPTION: APRIL 4, 7-9PM EXHIBITION DATES: APRIL 4 – MAY 3, 2009

    Heist Gallery and Metro Color Collision are proud to present a sensational solo exhibition by Ryan Watkins-Hughes From Gallery to Grocery: Yes, we canned. For the exhibition, Heist Gallery will clandestinely transform its primary mode of business by operating under the pretense of a local corner grocery. Ryan Watkins-Hughes, whose ongoing “Shopdropping” project ( is the basis for the “transition,” will exhibit his shopdropped cans along the newly deployed shelves, in an altered environment complete with shoddy carpeting, cardboard floors, and miscellaneous grocery products.

    The exhibition operates simultaneously as a site-specific installation and a vibrant happening. Watkins-Hughes has created fake “bodega paraphernalia” for the exhibition, paying homage to the signature icons of local NYC corner stores such as promotion beer posters, random flags, garish ads, and colorful food items with zero nutritional value. Among these objects are the ubiquitous canned food items that serve as inspiration for Watkins-Hughes. Aesthetically reconfiguring such items using his original images, Watkins-Hughes displays these transformed objects in their native environment. The altered cans as well photographs of past “Shopdropping” interventions will be available for sale. For every work by Ryan Watkins-Hughes purchased, Heist Gallery will match it with a donated can to the Food Bank of New York City. In addition, all food items in the exhibition will be donated once the show closes.

    “Shopdropping,” which is essentially the reverse act of shoplifting, is an ongoing project in which Watkins-Hughes buys cans of food and replaces the label with his original images. Retaining the functional barcodes, he “drops” the cans back onto the grocery shelves. The result is a disruption of the regulated continuum of the commercial activity within the store. Watkins-Hughes explores the large-scale order and dynamic flow of the grocery store by infiltrating its giant operational structure. Placing this activity within the context of the gallery setting, Watkins-Hughes reminds us of the increasingly gentrified nature of the Lower East Side that has pushed out “mom & pop” shops to make room for a multiplying number of galleries, luxury boutiques and salons. From Gallery to Grocery: Yes, We Canned becomes an act of “de-gentrification,” or "re-integration", parodying visible effects and fears of the current recession within the art world while giving a friendly nod to the original character of the local neighborhood. However, the space retains its function as a commercial art gallery, pointing to the fact that art is still a commodity available for purchase much like canned food or a pack of gum.

    Ryan Watkins-Hughes was born in Atlanta, GA and attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. He has exhibited his work in New York City and throughout the Americas and Europe. Watkins-Hughes currently lives in New Orleans where he will receive an MFA from Tulane University in 2010. From Gallery to Grocery: Yes, we canned will be on view at Heist Gallery from April 4 – May 3, 2009.

    Heist Gallery, located in the heart of a vibrant neighborhood, is a new addition to the dynamic gallery scene of the Lower East Side. Always seeking to show work that speaks its mind in the context of its rich and unique neighborhood, Heist Gallery is thrilled to add to the mix of rampant creativity.

    Heist Gallery ?27 Essex Street ?New York, NY 10002 ?P: 212.253.0451 E: