NEW YORK — If the hot dogs in this New York City bodega feel a little, well, soft and squishy, don’t worry, it’s not a health hazard. It’s art.
A British artist has recreated the contents of a city bodega entirely in felt, the soft material usually favored by the school-going set. Lucy Sparrow’s “8 Till Late” opened to the public in a 1,200-square-foot space at The Standard hotel on Manhattan’s west side on Monday and runs through June 30.
Sparrow handmade the 9,000 items in the installation, covering practically everything you might find in the small stores that are synonymous with New York City — there are felt jars of peanut butter and jelly as well as packages of white bread; felt pizza slices and pretzels on the felt grill along with felt hot dogs; felt boxes of detergent and a felt fridge filled with felt ice cream.
The artist has been working in felt for years and says the material “evokes nostalgia with people.”
The New York City exhibit follows a similar one Sparrow created in London, called “The Cornershop.” The point of both, she said, was to generate conversation about what is lost when small mom-and-pop stores like bodegas fade away, often with chain stores coming in as replacements.
“A sense of community is being lost when these places disappear,” she said.
Sparrow said it took several months to make all the items, working for 16 hours every day toward the end of her production period. Among her favorite items in the shop are the sausages and other products in the meat case, all of which have eyes and faces.
“It’s very cute but sort of gruesome at the same time,” she said.
And in the interests of verisimilitude, she of course included that mainstay of the bodegas, the cat that can usually be seen lolling on a pallet of cans or strolling through the aisles.
“I had at least 20 people say to me that having a bodega cat was probably the most important thing about this installation,” Sparrow said, “so I had to get that right.”