We’ve got plenty of ideas for Valentine’s weekend, but none of them are quite as romantic as an escape to the Catskills. If this were Don Draper’s day, you could drive a couple of hours up to Liberty, New York, where Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel once stood. But since this is the year 2016 and the hotel is rotting away, you should do the next best thing by heading to “The Resort,” a show at The Hollows that will bring a taste of those Borscht Belt glory days to Bushwick.
Grossinger’s opened in 1914 as a modest boarding house and eventually became a 1,200-acre complex complete with a golf course, theater, a natorium, and ski slopes that were the first place to use artificial snow. The spread was even more lavish than that of Kutsher’s, the resort that hosted All Tomorrow’s Parties and is now the subject of a wistful documentary. But, as Pablo Maurer goes on to recount in his history of the place, things are different these days: “What’s left of the resort—a set of rapidly decomposing hotel buildings and two mammoth swimming pools—has become a playground for urban explorers and graffiti artists alike.”
Maurer – who happens to be my brother— counts himself among those urban explorers, and for the past year has been creating GIFs in which vintage postcards of Grossinger’s fade into his photos of the resort in its current state of decay. Here’s one of the moss-ridden natatorium.
As it turns out, my brother isn’t the only one who is fascinated by the postcards, and has been working to bring them into the present day. Robert Hickerson, a video artist and performer, saw one of those old postcards and, last year, decided to make a trip to Grossinger’s. Together with his Bushwick studio mate, Kerry Lessard, he’s been reenacting some of the couples scenes in the postcards. You’ll be able to see some of the resulting videos and photos Saturday when “The Resort” opens as part of the “Nighttime at The Hollows” series.
Starting at 10 p.m., their reenactments and their snaps of present-day Grossinger’s will grace the walls of the brownstone that’s home to The Hollows, which happens to be about the same age as Grossinger’s. Not only that, but guests will be able to stage their own reenactments. With a giant image of the Grossinger’s lobby serving as a backdrop, they’ll be invited to try on vintage clothing and get their photos taken. A telephone and light fixtures snagged during a trip to the resort will lend an extra touch of authenticity. The images will likely appear on a Tumblr in the near future.
According to a press release about the exhibit, the artists felt that the downfall of Grossinger’s “demonstrated the repercussions of overindulgence. The performance taking place at a brownstone in Bushwick, a neighborhood in midst of high rates of gentrification and real estate wars, highlights the nostalgia and memories that the place evokes.”
Clearly, Hickerson and Lessard are making an effort to go beyond tiresome ruin porn. That said, we’re told The Hollows will be red-lit on this occasion, for those who do want a porny vibe.
“The Resort,” Feb. 13 from 10pm to 12:30am at The Hollows, 708 Bushwick Ave., Bushwick