About a month ago, two graffitied canvases appeared in the lobby of the office building at 915 Broadway. A staid, corporate affair owned by Earle Altman’s ABS Partners in the Flatiron district, 915 houses such forward-thinking tech and investment personalities as Union Square Ventures, General Assembly and Pay Pal founder Peter Thiel.
We recently visited the lobby, where Cindy Glanzrock, president of Glanzrock Realty Services, told us, with the air of a bushwhacking anthropologist, that the men who work for Mr. Thiel have beards. Sometimes, she said, they even wear sneakers to work.
Ms. Glanzrock works mostly with wing-tipped, clean-shaven types. She herself wore a light purple sweater over a dark suit with a patterned silk scarf.
But hip tenants, to Ms. Glanzrock’s way of thinking, call for hip decorations. She was largely responsible for selecting the lobby canvases, which were done by the Bronx-based aerosol artist Sen2, and which depict seductive, comic book-style figures splashed in bright blues and pinks.
“Earle Altman grew up on Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx,” she said. “So I picked an artist from the Bronx.” The granddaughter of George Farkas, who founded the Alexander’s department store chain, Ms. Glanzrock is a collector of modern art, a passion she said she inherited from her grandparents, who hung in their home original works by Dali, Renoir and others. “I have some dead artists, but mostly I focus on living ones. It’s important that the art comes from the street.”
If her pedigree and appearance do not quite suggest rugged urban experience, Ms. Glanzrock nonetheless believes that her work has granted her a kind of counterintuitive wisdom. “As a commercial broker, I’m always hitting the street,” she explained.
The installation at 915 is the first of several Ms. Glanzrock has planned as part of her Building Art Curatorial Program, which aims to “connect [street] artists and spaces, tailored to specific buildings within a select real estate portfolio.” BACP intends to discover, expose and lease artwork for commercial lobbies, offering clients the option to buy. (Sen2′s canvases are priced at $6,500 each, unframed.) Installations at 1001 6th Avenue and at 29 West 38th Street, furnished by artists DOC (Design Obtain Cherish) and Keith Haring protégé LA Roc, respectively, are next on the agenda.
Sen2, born Sandro Figueroa Garcia in Puerto Rico in 1969, was not, strictly speaking, in need of discovering. He learned his trade in the 80s, after moving to the Bronx, from graffiti artists that he met at break dance competitions. Talent and exuberance swiftly landed him a place with Tats Cru, a street artists’ collective that was among the most famed and prestigious in the world. (It has since become a formal company, with which he is not affiliated.)
His work—wildly colorful agglomerations of sharp and bulbous shapes, abstract patterns and sly, cartoonish figures—has been commissioned by Coca Cola, Coach, Missy Elliot, Robert De Niro, and others. He has a gallery in San Francisco, a studio in the Bronx and a cheerleader in the Hamptons gallerist Howard Shapiro. Since the 90s, fans in South America and Europe have greeted him by name, gathering in crowds when he visits to watch him work live.
Still, corporate partnerships are helpful. “Artists think they don’t need business people,” Ms. Glanzrock said. “But they really do.” Sen2, who was also on hand during our visit, agreed: “Sometimes, you do work and then the money doesn’t come on time. And then I have to wait to get more materials.”
Now in his mid-40s, Sen2 has a wife and children of his own, but he maintains a boyish ebullience. Bald and stocky, with a broad, easy smile and a small goatee, he wore a t-shirt of his own design and artfully distressed jeans. He is joyfully obsessed with his craft, punctuating monologues on color, technique and design with amorous avowals: “I love that! I love that!” Even the computer in his studio is covered in paint.
Though he refrains these days from the practice, he also remains enthusiastic about bombing—the unsanctioned “tagging” of public surfaces with one’s graffiti signature. “That’s how you show to the people who you are,” he said. “I love that! I love that!”
Bombing aside, Sen2’s work is not subversive. He has no ideological or political agenda. This, of course, is not true of all street art, including some Ms. Glanzrock has placed though BACP.
“One of the pieces I thought about is called ‘Path to Riches,’” she said. A large sculptural installation, the work includes a length of red carpet, at the end of which dance brooms—a la Fantasia—sweeping at fragments of gold. “Well, the double meaning is that the path to riches is bloody. And Capital One is one of this building’s tenants, so as soon as they see what the other meaning is, I could get into trouble.”
“Path to Riches” did not make the cut.
But some amount of provocation can be desirable. The LA Roc piece slated for display includes luridly drawn dollar signs and DOC, whose very moniker represents a—rather heavy-handed—anti-capitalist statement, will contribute sculptures depicting melting ice cream and lollipops, a comment on climate change.
“It’s about the screwed up environment we live in,” Ms. Glanzrock confirmed. “Which has a lot to do with corporate America. A lot of people who work in these establishments are anti-establishment. However, they wouldn’t speak up because they need their paycheck. But [the artworks] are colorful and they make people talk.”
Despite time spent on the street, Ms. Glanzrock occasionally has difficulty getting in touch with the sorts of “hip,” “chic” and “hot” underground artists whose work she covets for her program. “The trouble with some of these street artists is that they’re impossible to find,” she said. “I don’t know how to contact them.” Sen2—whom Ms. Glanzrock affectionately calls “Sen”—smiled, looking up from his smartphone. “I do,” he said. “They’re all my friends.”