If you’re anywhere near 50 Varick Street today, you may want to head over there toot sweet. Not for the Calvin Klein fashion show (yawn), but for something far more colorful that’s happening outside of it at this very moment.
Remember Andy Golub, the artist who got arrested a few years ago for staging live body painting in Times Square? and who in June hosted a New York Body Painting Day, where 40 painted, fully nude models marched down Broadway?
He’s back for his second New York Fashion Week. On Sunday, he set up 20 feet away from the DKNY show, and it was quite a scene: on one part of 26th Street, guards stood protecting the entryway, velvet ropes lined the sidewalk, and models adjusted their poses for the firing squad of photographers. A little away from the crowd another line began to form around a naked woman and man, their bodies full of swirls of purple, pink, green, black, and yellow. Their faces looked just as serious as the models on the runway.
“They are the money. We are the love,” said Golub as he painted yellow stripes on the man’s arm. The art, he said, is “not about money. Not about status. It’s about, sort of, being true to yourself. I think that people on some level, some very right-brain level, they understand that. I think that we don’t really see that freedom and openness that often.”
Golub isn’t necessarily attacking the fashion world. “They look nice with their different outfits,” he admitted. “I’m not saying they don’t, but I’m interested in the inside of people, the spirit of people. That,” he points to the line of models, “sort of almost blocks the spirit of people. You become a representation of yourself in a sense. Especially when one person is designing the clothes and the other person is wearing it.” For his shows he wears a blue t-shirt with faces he drew himself. He hasn’t yet joined his models in their nudity, but he would if the chance came up.
Nude model Halena Herrera, 27, who was bright with color and hanging off the lamppost, said she was there because she “loves the art.” Another volunteer model, 22-year-old Tahirah Cochran, said, “I feel like we’re just spreading the love.”
After Golub was arrested in Times Square in 2011, the charges were dropped. He insists that “full nudity is legal in New York if it’s a part of an exhibition or show. Cops tried to stop us, but the law is on my side.” He plans to have another New York Body Painting Day in the near future because “art is a great way of connecting with people.” In the meantime, you can find him outside of 50 Varick Street today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.