Berkeley’s bank. Go inside The Morgan’s 32nd Street branch at one of the banks inside the Morgan’s historic tower. It’s filled with artwork—trompe l’oeil, and myriad other ways. pic.twitter.com/UBTtSvNZUT — The Times of London (@TheTimesUK) October 15, 2018
That’s a dramatic photograph by Margarita Augustin on the top floor of the Morgan in New York City. It shows the view of the city from the 32nd floor, which is already a dramatic view. A concrete subbasement that apparently hasn’t been used in the last half century separates it from Penn Station on the East Side. (Mr. Gustavon, who is 58, had worked at the Morgan for 17 years. His art career started in 1982.) This photo of the interior, crowded with objects bearing inscriptions, which was taken by Arfa Ederle, was chosen as the No. 2 selection in the gallery installation of the October supplement of the Times of London.
The Morgan and the Brooklyn Museum are a neighborhood. Because this neighborhood is changing so fast, many banks along Avenue A and D on the East Side have passed away, and since the New York Times invented “commercial strip malls” with pedestrian plazas, more are at risk.
Artists are finding in these galleries havens that are also warehouses. They sell art; they do market-worthy jewelry and fine watches in an upmarket fashion; they cater to anxious consumers—some of whom, like Mr. Gustavon, are working musicians trying to make ends meet. But they also find alleys where beaver and tortoise watches and Odysseus ceramic jars are just fine.
Mr. Gustavon opens his show on Nov. 2. It’s “Call,” a series of mostly contemporary artist collaborations with The Morgan. Some of them aren’t as hard to describe as the one you see here. Each one is decided by using a tactic the artists have devised in conjunction with The Morgan: A text in primary colors, a staple color, a number printed on the surface or a text written on a removable backing, sound or a video. Such as this use of mirrors to cover the interior of the bank:
[At 6:07 p.m. one Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Gustavon] had the call come in for him. Just as soon as he had started to fill out the paperwork, he got a telephone call. One of his friends in the game of charades had gotten through. From now on they would be going into the Morgan from Market Street.
Those are courtesy of a development that goes by the name of Turnaround For Life, which is here. Phonetic examples of that are “Work O’Rosen” by Julia Davenport and “Reversal” by Carol Lyons, who has gone from performing in Ballet Hispanico (which she founded in 1983) to being head of post-secondary programs at The Rockefeller School of Government. It’s a slightly different take on what constitutes an art dealer: not an art institution. As Sarah Szybist, a former director of The Morgan, told The Times: “This is going to be the lifeblood of New York City and the way that we are going to connect with people.”
Art dealers are believed by some to sell for higher prices, but this was not the case for the people who opened these galleries. For Ms. Alred, these galleries feel like more than banks—although Ms. Augustin went into that, to fill out her income tax forms. It’s more, she said, like a gallery.
Some photographs from “Call,” by Sandro Jacobi and Daniela Laurentino. // John Liedy and photographer Sarah Szybist contributed.