If art galleries represent the high-culture end of commerce, then the low-culture version would be the classic American 99-cent store, where you find everything from shoelaces to glow-worms to oversize Hershey Bars. Tonight the bastard child of both store types opens in Miami’s Design District: the Deitch/Paper art store, featuring 1,600-plus items created by artists. The concept came from Paper magazine co-founder Kim Hastreiter, an inveterate collector of everything from Sol Lewitt dishes to Jeff Koons skateboards. “I wanted to do something for Art Basel/Miami Beach, but not just another party,” says Ms Hastreiter, whose art-school mentor was John Baldessari. “Artists have always made products but lately it’s out of control. I’m a shopping fiend for those products—that stuff has become like my pension plan—and I’ve also always loved 99-cent stores. So I proposed the idea of doing one with artist products to Jeffrey [Deitch].”
Mr Deitch agreed to underwrite the space and Ms Hastreiter started assembling products, including Lisa Yuskavage shower curtains , a Kiki Smith lamb (as opposed to piggy) bank, Barbara Kruger pillows, Assume Astro Vivid Focus-designed Le Sportsac purses, Andy Warhol soap, Baldessari’s silk scarves and Marilyn Minter beach towels. “I wanted to get really campy things, too, like the Robert Indiana floor mat and Jackson Pollock ties,” say Hastreiter, who says her favourite pieces include a spoof of the cancer-awareness LiveStrong yellow bracelets by New York artist duo Andrew Andrew, whose version of the bracelet is gold-coloured and features Cartier’s intertwined-C logo. Of course, the objects won’t all be priced equally. Last night, Ms Hastreiter was wavering over whether to sell a Tobias Long hash-pipe screen at 99 cents or $1.99. But the highest priced “item” is a four-story, six-bedroom, seven-bathroom townhouse in the Aqua development, which will be completely customised by artists at a price of something between $6,666,666 and $9,999,999.
As a financial venture, the Deitch/Paper store is hardly promising for Ms Hastreiter despite her Herculean efforts. “It’s all consigned by the artists, so no one makes any money except them,” she explained, while sprinting around the space last night to finish pricing the pieces. “And I’m a magazine editor, so I have to figure out how to even run a store. We have cash registers but no idea how to use them.” Somehow, that seems appropriate.
The Buick Building, 3841 Northeast Second Avenue, Miami. Opening tonight, 8pm-midnight; Friday 8-Sunday 10 December, 11am-6pm