John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
For its inaugural exhibit, the Getty station in Chelsea will be filled with metal sheep.
"Internationally acclaimed art" and "fill-up station" don't often fit together in the same sentence. This is one of the happy occasions when they can, however, thanks to an old gas depot in Manhattan that's becoming a revolving gallery for public art.
A little while ago, dump trucks sloughed loads of gravel onto the floor of the defunct Getty service station at 239 Tenth Avenue in West Chelsea. (Single Yelp review: "it's gas... self explainatory!") Workers topped that off with verdant sod and lined the business with dwarfish trees. The bucolic transformation is all a set-up for the place's inaugural show on September 16: "Sheep Station," a herd of bronze ungulates crafted by the late surrealist sculptor, François-Xavier Lalanne.
Turning an oil-stained car-hole into Manhattan's newest trendy art spot was the idea of the Paul Kasmin Gallery and real-estate mogul Michael Shvo, who recently purchased the site for $23.5 million. (To measure by price per square foot, the deal was almost a record-setter even for the ridiculous New York real-estate market, reports Crain's.) Shvo plans to build luxury condos on top of the parcel, and even more units on top of those if he can get the air rights, and being an art collector himself decided to temporarily devote the space to various shows. They will alternate every so often until construction begins in 2014.
When the condos finally open, tenants will find their tony building outfitted with even more art installations, according to The New York Times. In the meantime the Getty will serve as one more of the world's oddly high-class gas stations, including one executed by Mies Van Der Rohe and another by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Here are a few photos showing what the station looks like now, as well as one of the sheep that will soon faux-graze in Chelsea:
Images of sheep courtesy of Les Lalanne and Paul Kasmin Gallery. Gas station photos by Thomas Schaer for SHVO