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Mark Miller Prepares for Wednesday Reopening

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Kevin Berlin (L), Mark Miller (R) prepare to open

This week the Mark Miller Gallery will be celebrating two big events: the American debut of “Double Happiness,” the striking exhibition from renowned artist Kevin Berlin, and the reopening of the Orchard Street gallery after a two-year transformation. We stopped by last week to talk with Miller and Berlin, as they were rushing to prepare for a preview show for the YoungArts Presidential Scholars.

“Double Happiness” explores the search for happiness in Shanghai. Inspired by a mundane act, stepping on an empty cigarette carton, Berlin says people in Shanghai and New York have a lot in common: “We all want the same things — love, cash, sex, status, something satisfying to eat, a friend, to live in a beautiful place, to be a part of the future.” Berlin told me he is a witness, who depicts what he sees, almost, as a journalist would.

The exhibition, imported directly from Shanghai, features 60 works divided into three categories: “Steamed Buns and Double Happiness,” “Cigarettes and Cash” and counterfeit “Bags.” The artist has become famous for his explorations of money and wealth in New York. Now he turns his attention to Chinese consumerism.

The debut is Wednesday night from 7-9pm. All are welcome. Miller, who’s also president of the LES Business Improvement District, is excited to finally be reopening. In addition to expanding into the lower level of 92 Orchard, he’s remaking the street-side facade, adding glass doors, making sidewalk improvements and preparing to clean the building’s detailed tenement exterior.

The facade of 92 Orchard will be scrubbed clean.

The gallery, Miller explained, will be used to showcase everything the neighborhood has to offer. He’ll host community events, poetry readings and other special functions. One person nearly as excited for the construction to come to and end: Miller’s mom, Arlene, who’s run JA-Mil Uniform Company (next door to the gallery) since 1961.

Miller’s family goes way back in New York. As the Daily News noted in a recent article, his ancestors played central roles in the Revolutionary War and the establishment of the New York Stock Exchange. We’ll look into the Miller family tree (on the Lower East Side) sometime soon. But first things first — there’s a gallery to be opened on Orchard Street!

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