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November 7, 2012 by rizkynurs1101040049

Sandy wreaks havoc on NYC art culture

Dumpster-lined streets and sidewalks strewn with destroyed art hint at the damage Hurricane Sandy wreaked on New York’s most important art district last week; but as electricity slowly returns and flood waters recede, the impact of the “super storm” is still uncertain in New York’s downtown Chelsea neighborhood.

“Chelsea is the center of America for contemporary art,” Zach Feuer, owner of Zach Feuer gallery, told CNN. “This is a big cultural loss.”

The destruction has left the contemporary and modern art world reeling, and as the recovery effort continues the massive creative and monetary toll is rising fast.

“I would not be surprised if, when it’s all said and done, the damage that is done to our art world will be in the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in unrecoverable work,” gallery owner Leo Koenig said.

What caused so much damage?

When the surge from Hurricane Sandy pushed water levels to record highs on Monday night, flooding from the Hudson River quickly filled basements and street level facilities that are used primarily for art storage and exhibitions in Chelsea. In many cases, precautionary sandbags and sealants were washed away easily, and even works that were elevated high on the wall were soaked by morning.

As the storm subsided, gallery owners and managers returned early on Tuesday, but much of the permanent damage had already been done.

Gallery owner Derek Eller returned to his building but couldn’t operate his electric gate because of the power outage. From a back window he was able to see boxes on the ground floor that had floated up when flooding in his 1,800-square-foot basement nearly reached the ceiling.

“It’s a disaster, pieces are lost forever,” Eller said after emerging from his still-soaked basement. “We have been saving works over the past three days.”

Leo Koenig, a fellow gallery owner, sealed the bottom of the entrance to his space in preparation for the hurricane. “My common sense told me that if there was a foot and a half of water standing on 23rd Street, the world was about to end,” he said. But when Koenig opened his doors the following day, water trapped in the gallery all night by the sealant came gushing out onto the sidewalk.

While many returned to find their collections in ruins, some witnessed the wreckage as it unfolded.



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