In today’s New York Times, there’s an interesting and entertaining profile of Angela Westwater, the woman behind the Bowery’s new showpiece, the eight story Sperone Westwater Gallery. A few months ago, Times art critic Ken Johnson skewered the Norman Foster-designed structure, comparing it to a “discount furniture emporium.”
This morning’s piece calls the gallery, located at 257 Bowery, an “almost Trumpian expression of ambition.” And reporter Alex Williams goes in search of the building’s “larger significance:”
(Westwater) and her partner, Gian Enzo Sperone, left their old space on West 13th Street, hired a world-famous architect, and built a sleek temple for contemporary art on a block better known for restaurant supply stores: was it a statement of faith that the Lower East Side is about to become another art center, like West Chelsea? Oh, that’s a little lofty, she seems to suggest.
A woman of “impeccable social graces and aristocratic bearing,” Westwater drew on her deep connections in the art world to make the project happen:
Indeed, her connections are a form of capital. Without them, she would have never ended up with an eight-story monolith on the Bowery, courtesy of the Pritzker-prize-winning British architect behind the transformation of the Reichstag in Berlin… Ms. Westwater and her husband, David Meitus, knew the Fosters through the Tate museum in London… (She) invited him to consider the project in 2007, when the gallery sought to expand from its old home and resettle on a narrow parcel of land a few doors from the New Museum of Contemporary Art. (Westwater and Sperone)… met with Mr. Foster for an informal brainstorming session over pizza on a mountaintop in St. Moritz, where the architect has a home — and cobbled together a vision of a unique high-rise gallery.