Downtown Tower Records No Longer Empty


For those who bemoaned the loss of Tower Records in New York’s East Village (or the gaping retail hole left in the landmark building on Broadway and 4th), take heart. For the next month, non-profit organization No Longer Empty is staging a temporary gallery and multimedia art exhibition, launched Friday with a performance by Loud Objects with Mens’ Noise Choir. Though we’d like to see something more permanent take roost (the space has recently hosted a Toys ‘R’ Us pop-up shop, Steve & Barry’s, and a quickie Manhattan outpost of the Brooklyn Flea), paying homage to East Village culture with an art and music extravaganza seems befitting.

“Never Can Say Goodbye” organized by No Longer Empty

No Longer Empty (NLE) is a crack team of curators, artists, and advocates who want to revitalize empty storefronts as a response to the present economic condition, presenting high-caliber arts programming to the public at large. (Check out some recently commissioned murals, with video, here.) Never Can Say Goodbye in the old Tower Records space follows last summer’s Hotel Chelsea install, expanding the number of contributors (20+) and incorporating sound, light, and image to pay tribute to the almost-extinct record store.

To wit, visitors can flip through stacks of blacked-out albums that contain poems instead of vinyl, a project organized by artist Ted Riederer that includes contributions from Richard Barnes, Marilyn Minter, and Arturo Vega with Dee Dee Ramone. Meredyth Sparks gets saucy with reworked David Bowie imagery and ’80s nudes, Ryan Brennan offers his take on the history of hip-hop with an eight boombox sound installation, and Siebren Versteeg’s ephemeral installation relies on music memory.

Paul Villinski, Diaspora, 2010

A panel discussion on Tuesday, January 26 will focus on new directions in music industry production, listening and consumption; guest speakers include music industry attorney Elliot Groffman (rep for Jay-Z and Dave Matthews Band), artist manager Kevin Patrick (Matt & Kim, Vivian Green), the president of CBS Interactive Music Group, the founder of, and the founder of PRO MOTION distribution.

Up next for NLE? “What is Art?” tours around Chelsea and the Lower East Side during the Armory Show, March 6 and 7, 2010.

Ryan Brennan, Bling Box Orchestra, 2010

Image of Meredyth Sparks’s installation courtesy of PSFK.