It’s been nine years since the much-loved newsstand “Petrella’s Point” disappeared from Canal and Bowery, but this month, artists insist that it has not been forgotten. On Sunday, Anne Libby, Elise McMahon and Sophie Stone re-opened for business.
Their pop-up stand “Petrella’s Imports” honors the colorful local newsstand that was removed by the city 2004 in favor of the mass-produced steel-and-glass standard we see today. Petrella’s Point was once a funky, bright-red neighborhood fixture, owned and operated by Adam Petrella for 30 years. Petrella himself was a local legend and artist, known to hand out his own drawings of celebrities to passersby.
While “Petrella’s Imports” offers some of the items sold in a regular newsstand—water, magazines, snacks, and newspapers amongst them—that’s only one part of what’s found inside. The artists recreate the original stand’s individuality by stocking their shelves with custom items, refreshed daily. On Sunday, this included anything from alternative publications on urban life with a specific focus on New York to a hand-fabricated umbrella that almost certainly does not repel water. Customers could choose from a number of photographic zines published by NOWORK, the NYCentric collaboration between Pierre Le Hors and Tuomas Korpijaakko, and Petrella’s also sells Melissa Brown’s card game “The Tabloid Deck”. The custom deck uses tabloid headlines such as “pregnant”, “lost”, and “cankle” and invites people to recombine them.
Unsurprisingly, there’s not a speck of display space in Petrella’s that goes unused. One side of the stand displays a selection of gems from their inventory. The front window is pasted with square cards from a series by Eliosa Aquino entitled “The Life and Times of Butch Dykes”. Purchases are wrapped in classic I <3 NY bags.
Business has been great so far, though New Yorkers seem unsure how seriously to take the stand. One customer inquired about adult magazines, of which there are none. That may have been a disappointment, but those looking for cigarettes, should take heart—they’re just cigarettes.
“Petrella’s Imports” is open to public Thursdays-Sundays, 12-7PM. The project will run through June 14th, with the possibility of extension.