Anyone who has wandered into a Kid Robot store will know the Munny (pronounced Muni) doll. It's a blank, white vinyl character you can decorate yourself with pens and crayons. If there was a word like "androgynous" with an expanded meaning to encompass "indeterminate creature" then it would describe the Munny. It's vaguely human, vaguely animal, vaguely neither.
Jan Huling, a former advertising creative, decided to bead the heck out of the minimalist Munny, making it decidedly maximalist. The result is a stunning twist on this famous, faceless anime icon.
I stumbled across it in Lyons Wier Gallery, an inviting, accessible corner space on 7th Ave which rubs shoulders with the more pedestrian Jamba Juices, Pinkberrys and falafel joints, quite distant from the main westside Chelsea Gallery district.
"We're on the cusp, I enjoy the location and being away from the Gallery scene," said Michael Lyons, one of the new breed of gallery owner I'm starting to encounter in this recession. Friendly, present in person and eager to get up from behind the ubiquitous Mac to "tell and sell", he explained how newbie Jan caught his eye.
"We discovered her at Art Bazaar, where I put out a call to unrepresented artists to rent a slot and compete for the Lyons Wier prize - a solo spot based on generating the most sales." There's been plenty of buzz about Lyons' bazaar as you can read here.
Super motivated, Huling showed up a full 24 hours before the opening time to be the first in line, secure the the front window, and subsequently snag the prize.
"She knew she'd win, she was very focused," said Lyons.
Huling takes her inspiration from folk art designs - native American, Tibetan - and generates a computerized beading map which is superimposed over the object she intends to decorate. She then painstakingly strings and applies the rows of glass beads with a glue in a syringe, removes the string and fills the remaining space for a single bead by hand.
The result is a very covetable tchotchke that in 10 hours netted $10,000 in sales at the Bazaar. A glance at the Lyons Wier site shows numerous objects similarly embeaded - I'm eyeing off my boring white mouse and memory stick and imagining them beaded beyond recognition.
Huling's work will also appear at SOFA - Sculpture, Objects and Functional Art at 67th and Park Armory in April, 2010.
Jan's beaded violin!
Lyons Wier Gallery
175 Seventh Avenue (@ W. 20th Street)
New York, NY 10011
Email: gallery (at) lyonswiergallery.com
Monday- Saturday, 11:00 – 7:00
Sunday 12:00 – 6:00