At the Election Night party at Gavin Brown‘s Enterprise gallery, on Greenwich and Leroy streets in the West Village, balloons are attached to the ceiling. If Barack Obama wins tonight, they’ll be released onto the floor. If he loses, they’ll be left to slowly deflate.
Mr. Brown is British and can’t vote here. Still, he said, "if [Barack Obama] loses, the city will feel betrayed. People will be angry."
We wondered whether Mr. Brown’s late, great Meatpacking District bar Passerby would have been a good place to throw an Election Night party. "It would be, but it’s not around. And that actually says something." Bottle service, said Mr. Brown, is what killed Passerby. "Those dumb fucks selling mortgages to people that can’t afford them–the city has been ruined by people like that. What’s going to happen to the Meatpacking district? It was created by those parasites.”
Bottle service aside, how was Mr. Brown feelin generally about the election? "Optimistic!" he said. "A man like [Obama] can be so inspiring. Win or lose, nothing will be the same tomorrow.”
Earlier in the evening, the Daily Transom encountered fortysomething Columbia English professor Carol Peters, who was clad in all black. Ms. Peters had voted at 6:30 in the morning at a school on Spring Street in Soho, where she has been voting since 1982. "I feel part black anyway because I’m a New Yorker," she said. "I have a lot of black friends. I feel honored to be alive right now… I understand if by 7 [Obama] wins Virginia then we’re home free. And if by 2 it’s still undecided then we can expect anything. It almost seems too good to be true if he’s elected."
The artist Cecily Brown stopped by wearing a brown Obama T-shirt and jeans tucked into black boots. “I am so nervous," she said. "I am terrified it will get stolen somehow. In fact I’m going home right after this. I need to be watching it in private. I’m just stopping by to say hello to some friends and hang out. I have never felt this way about a candidate before.”
Ms. Brown, who is 39, is a British citizen and so didn’t vote today. But she had another motive for wanting Mr. Obama to win. "I’m actually pregnant right now, so I’m hoping—praying—that my baby will have Obama as a president," she said. "I can’t even drink right now!" (The gallery is serving Mr. Obama’s official family chili recipe, all American beer—the Daily Transom spotted some Pabst Blue Ribbon—and hot dogs.)
Artist Jonathan Horowitz‘s installation takes up the entire gallery. In the main room, chairs are lined up in a circle-one side blue, one red. Two flat-screen televisions face either side of the red-blue divide: the red side is tuned to Fox News, while the blue is tuned to CNN. There are also several attention-grabbing images: one pair features Jamie Lynn Spears walking in a pink dress and says "Vote Obama"; the other is a photo of Snoop Dogg carrying Britney Spears and says "Vote McCain." Then there’s the image that’s Katie Couric on top and Britney Spears‘ vagina on the bottom. And lining the walls of the entire gallery are images of every president. At the very end, a picture of Mr. Obama is lying on the ground. If he wins, it will be hung up on the wall with those of the other presidents. If not, it will stay on the ground.
Mr. Horowitz, who is 41 and lives on the Lower East Side, told us that the image of Ms. Couric and Ms. Spears is called CBS Evening News/www.britneycrotchshot.org. "For Katie Couric’s inaugural broadcast, there was a decision made that her legs would be part of the broadcast," said Mr. Horowitz. "So I just paired that with Britney.”
He continued: “I think art should exist alongside other media. I’m very optimistic, I’m excited. It seems like it’s going to be a landslide. I don’t see what could possibly go wrong this time." In the last few weeks, Mr. Horowitz said, every couple of days people would stick McCain-Palin stickers on the glass on the front door of the gallery.
Alan Marlis, a 62-year-old communications professor at City University of New York, was confident that Mr. Obama has the election sewn up. "It will be over early enough. It’s over now I think. They’re just trying to make it seem like it’s not."
We wondered whether Mr. Marlis thought John McCain had a chance of winning.
"I’ve heard some desperate McCain people thinking he might still have a chance," he said. "But after they beat up on Sarah Palin for two weeks, I knew that was it."
An artist named James Morrison said he is ready for everything to be over. "I’m actually feeling a little exhausted of it. I’m just sick of it," he said. "I already voted, what else can I do." Mr. Morrison, who is 31, said he had had a "pretty Republican" upbringing in Ohio. In fact, he had just received a text message from his sister, which he showed the Daily Transom: "Dad voted for Obama and mom is still undecided.”