[Photo by Patrick Rogers]
Famed sculptor Walter De Maria died last Thursday of a stroke, according to published reports. He was 77.
Here's part of a feature obituary from The Los Angeles Times:
Throughout his career, De Maria cultivated a somewhat reclusive personality as far as the media was concerned. He seldom gave interviews and disliked being photographed. He also avoided participating in museum shows when he could, preferring to create his installations outdoors or at unconventional urban locations.
As a result, his work was not widely exhibited in the U.S. and he never became a household name. But critics championed his work, finding his large-scale installations to be conceptual and intellectually complex, while at the same time accessible to the general public.
He was also a one-time drummer for the Primitives, a Velvet Underground precursor. The band members included Lou Reed, John Cale and Tony Conrad.
De Maria also owned one of the more intriguing buildings in the East Village — the mysterious 421 E. Sixth St. between First Avenue and Avenue A... I wonder what will happen to the building... Here's what I wrote about the address back in December in a post titled "What is your East Village dream home?"
I've always had my eye on 421 E. Sixth Street between First Avenue and Avenue A.
According to Forgotten New York: "421 was a Con Edison substation built in 1920-21 that converted direct current to alternating. It is at present (2008) the studio of modern artist/sculptor Walter De Maria."
Off the Grid just had a post on this landmarked building, offering more background:
According to a 1919 Board of Appeals resolution, the “four-story fireproof transformer building” would accommodate a switchboard room, static air chambers, blower room and rotary foundations on the first floor; rotaries, transformer, and booster compensator on the second floor; a battery room on the third floor; and a high tension room and blower and exhaust chambers on the fourth floor. Three people would work on the first floor and two on the second.
I've never met anyone who has been inside. I'm not sure if any photos exist of the interior. Kinda "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"-ish.
Here's more on the building via Wikimedia Commons:
421 East 6th Street between Avenue A and First Avenue in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City was built in 1919 as a transformer substation for the New York Edison Co., and was designed by William W. Whitehill in the Neo-classical style. It converted DC current into AC. The bulding was converted to a multi-use commercial structure in 1963, and has been owned by artist Walter De Maria since 1980.
[February 2013. Photo by Derek Berg]
Previously on EV Grieve:
About that "giant-robot laboratory" on East Sixth Street