Under Cover


Volume 18 • Issue 20 | October 07 – 13, 2005

Freedom from art

Baseball artist Andy Jurinko has a few ideas for how to use the suddenly obsolete Snohetta cultural center at the World Trade Center site. “Maybe what we should do out there is build a giant 50-foot monolith… a monument to the corporate world,” he told UnderCover shortly after Governor George Pataki ousted a freedom museum created for the site from the Snohetta building.

The International Freedom Center intended to explore the history of the struggle for global freedom. But the museum came under heavy fire this summer from some 9/11 victims’ families groups who rejected the notion of putting the W.T.C. disaster in a global context and preferred using the portion of the W.T.C. site exclusively for the memorial.

Last week, Pataki nixed the museum from its slot before the public at large could comment. The Drawing Center, a Soho-based museum also intended for the cultural center, is currently looking for a new location.

After 9/11, Jurinko and his wife spent nine months shoveling two feet of debris out of their Liberty St. apartment. Jurinko’s studio overlooks the W.T.C. site and the lobby of his building is now home to the Tribute Center, a temporary memorial center for W.T.C. visitors.

On second thought, Jurinko backed away from the monolith idea: “At this point I’d rather they just not do anything,” he said. “They want everything, so let them have everything. We can have a big negative black hole in space. It’s like a big negative as far as I’m concerned.”

Cheryl Pelavin, owner of the eponymous gallery on Jay St., was especially stunned to learn that less than 24 hours after the visual arts were banished from the site, redevelopment officials announced plans for a W.T.C. shopping mall. “They’re taking our liberties, but we can all buy SUVs. Everything’s fine, as long as I can have my SUV,” she said. “So you’re going to go in there and buy cool things, but God forbid you should look at anything that makes you think or is at all upsetting.”

Trading Places

Susan Mareneck is cashing in on the real estate wonder her once-illegal homestead has become. The longtime Tribeca artist and resident recently sold her loft for a whopping $1.5 million to a young family.

Located on Murray St. in the same building as the New Amsterdam Library, Mareneck moved into the 1897 structure in 1978 back when it was still a commercial space that had previously been the home to New York Law Review bindery. The landlord at the time chopped the 10,000 sq. ft. floor into four 1,900 sq. ft. units and parceled them out for $500 a piece. “When we started out, we thought it was a big rip off,” Mareneck told UnderCover.

It wasn’t long before her “big rip off” became an outrageous deal. The rent held steady at $500 long after the Loft Law was passed in the 1980s (it took the landlords years to bring the building up to code, she said.) In 2000 when the 12-story structure went condo, Mareneck and her neighbors raced to cash in on the 60 percent-of-market-rate deal they’d been offered. She bought her pad for around $300,000.

“Susan was one of Tribeca’s original artists,” boasted Carole de Saram of Sinvin Realty Corp., Mareneck’s selling agent.

Recently Mareneck decided to “reorganize” her life and sell out of the old neighborhood in favor of a less trendy alternative. She now splits her time between her East Harlem apartment and her home in Western Massachusetts. “When you’ve lived anywhere for 30 years, it’s pretty much of a change,” she said. Photographs she took of her last day in her home and studio “made a lump in my throat.”

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