Thursday, January 27, 2011

SHAKESPEARE IN SOHO a topless art gallery


They were the last thing I expected to see in the art gallery. Patience and I were in New York for the opening of the annual Pastel Society of America’s juried art show; the weekend was our reward for my acceptance into the show. We decided to explore the Soho area and visit as many galleries as time would allow. I was hoping to see some really exciting art that would inspire me to greatness...it was not to be. That notion was dispelled when we approached a gallery with a large fan in the lower half of the entrance door, blowing into the foyer of the gallery. About 4 feet opposite the door and in line with the fan, was a piece of white board with an adhesive surface collecting bits of dust and debris blown in from the sidewalk by the fan. Someone had the unmitigated nerve to call this art. But, I must say, some 12 years later that it is one of the only two pieces of art I remember seeing that day, so...who am I to cast stones...or dust.

The other piece of art I remember not for the work itself, but for what followed. We were standing in the Fulcrum Gallery on Broome St. looking at a piece of distressed metal on the wall with an interesting patina of earth colors. When I asked the cachectic looking young lady dressed in the requisite black about the piece she said I should talk to the Valerie, the gallery owner who was approaching us as we spoke. I followed the young woman’s gaze, not to her left or right, but upwards, over my shoulder. And there I had my first view of Valerie Shakespeare, in her above the knees dress, with her arms and legs wrapped around a shiny brass pole that carried her down from her office in the loft above us. As she approached us with her long blond hair and very short dress I quickly realized that the top she was wearing was completely transparent; she had no bra, and soon was standing directly in front of me. Those of you who are acquainted with me know that in shoes I stand no more than 5’ 5” from the ground, and thus I found myself close to eye level with two rather large breasts. Needless to say, it was with some difficulty that I could engage in conversation with her face.

Patience and I eventually made it out of the gallery, and immediately expressed divergent views on what we had experienced. She was quick to point out to me the Valerie was not in her 30s which I had ventured to say, but in her 50s, and that her breasts were not perky but were supported by the bra she wore beneath them. I swear I never saw the bra. Twelve years later and we still retain different memories.

FYI...Valerie and her husband are artists, and she was known more for the weekly meals she served to 30-35 artists and friends in her gallery than for her....you know.
Sadly the galley closed in 2002, but you can read and see Valerie and her husband on one of several websites that still exist.

http://valeriemonroeshakespeare.web.officelive.com/default.aspx

Apparently the above link is too long to work...so copy and paste in your browser.

7 comments:

ambergoulet said...

Interesting post, it's funny how even if your an artist the experience of what is around the art can have a longer lasting effect.

I was curious to see the gallery owner's artwork, but your website URL gave me an error message stating that it was too long.

You might want to try bit.ly to shorten the URL. http://bit.ly/

Valerie Shakespeare said...

Thank you for your fun comments about me & my gallery. You are right; I never wore a bra - not just in the gallery but ever since I was a teenager. I attribute that plus daily excercizes as the reason my breasts have stayed so firm even into my 60s! That plus the fact they are loved, by my husband of 46 years, Tery Fugate-Wilcox, who is the only artist in the family. (We handled about 19 artists) He is reponsible for the nuclear nosecone covered with fluffy gold leaf that was mounted over the spiral stairs, until it was shipped off to Florida, (no small feat in itself). I cried when it left! Check out "Fvlcrvm.info" for more proof that a bra just wasn't a necessary acoutrament. You might also enjoy a YouTube video at one of our "famous" dinner parties in the gallery: YouTube - Kate Rigg - "Do I smell like dick?" / Art & Conversation
It is shame that the effects of 9/11 destroyed so many galleries.
Thanks again,
Valerie Shakespeare

Valerie Shakespeare said...

Thank you for your fun comments about me & my gallery. You are right; I never wore a bra - not just in the gallery but ever since I was a teenager. I attribute that plus daily excercizes as the reason my breasts have stayed so firm even into my 60s! That plus the fact they are loved, by my husband of 46 years, Tery Fugate-Wilcox, who is the only artist in the family. (We handled about 19 artists) He is reponsible for the nuclear nosecone covered with fluffy gold leaf that was mounted over the spiral stairs, until it was shipped off to Florida, (no small feat in itself). I cried when it left! Check out "Fvlcrvm.info" for more proof that a bra just wasn't a necessary acoutrament. You might also enjoy a YouTube video at one of our "famous" dinner parties in the gallery: YouTube - Kate Rigg - "Do I smell like dick?" / Art & Conversation
It is shame that the effects of 9/11 destroyed so many galleries.
Thanks again,
Valerie Shakespeare

Valerie said...

I am Tery Fugate-Wilcox, Valerie Monroe Shakespeare's creation. She was my goddess, muse, wife, advisor and constant companion who created me as if I where her work of art.
Valerie Monroe Shakespeare
1944-May 18th 2011

tery fugate-wilcox said...

they just reran the seinfeld episode inspired by Valer!e's no bra.... it is called "the caddy"

tery fugate-wilcox said...

They just reran the Seinfeld episode inspired by Valer!e's no bra. It is callled "The Caddy"

Michael Zerin said...

I met Terry and and Valerie and knew them quite well from a gun store on Warren Street called Zirmo I ran with my dad, Stanley.
We got to know them very well over the years. Two great people. Sorry for Valerie's passing.