Hated Landlord SMA Equities Donates 104 Delancey for ‘Low Brow’ Art Gallery

Posted on: September 15th, 2016 at 5:11 am by
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Controversial landlord Samy Mahfar (aka SMA Equities) is in dire need of some good press these days. Perhaps that explains the so-called donation of 104 Delancey Street (former Washington Mutual bank and exhibition space) to become a multi-level gallery dedicated to “low brow” artists. The New Allen Art Foundation is curator in residence, an art program founded by Baby Brasa partner and artist Milan Kelez.

The entire commercial space is earmarked for the new enterprise – the 4,000-square-foot ground level plus nearly 4,000-square-feet on the second and basement level floors. It should open sometime in November.

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Mahfar’s REAL New York office with mural

(The definition of donate here is probably “until a bigger tenant can sign on for $$$.”)

You are probably familiar with The New Allen already through the recent collection of artwork along both sides of Allen Street between Delancey and Stanton Streets (each tagged #TheNewAllen). Originally launched as an open-air gallery, The New Allen began painting the murals over the summer with the goal of “uniting a collective of graffiti artists and muralist that are transforming Allen Street into the city’s premiere street art gallery.”

According to a press release:

Many of the artists participating in the gallery have been painting along Allen Street and other areas on the Lower East Side for years. Their work has transformed neglected walls and gates by giving them fresh and contemporary images that have been positively received by neighbors and local businesses in the community. Among the artists whose works are anticipated to be displayed are Baron Von Fancy, Eelco Virus, David Junelovf, The London Police and world-renowned New York graffiti artist Os Gemeos.

Adds Samy Mahfar, a principal of SMA Equities, “This is a great use for the space, which we offer tangible and cultural benefits to the community.  In recent years, the space has been used for individual art showings to much acclaim, as well as hosting a temporary Chabad learning center.”

What a joke. This, like the 100 Gates Project, is another lesson in artwashing, a verb coined to describe the phenomenon whereby street art (as street cred) is exploited to soften areas for incoming gentrification. It’s swiftly becoming an arrow in the quiver for advocates of the demolition and scrubbing of neighborhoods.

It’s also worth noting that SMA Equities brokerage offshoot, Real New York, operates an office on Allen Street.

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