One With the Force: Stuart Braunstein on Collective Hardware

The wait for the “Collective Hardware” follow-up at the space below Greenhouse has hit a snag. Curators Stuart Braunstein and Rony Rivellini promised shock and awe, and all we have now is “awww.” It isn’t actually going to happen? It still might, I am told, but extensive delays with permitting have our heroes looking elsewhere for creative fulfillment. I asked Stuart what was up.

With the permitting delays for the space under Greenhouse, what are you working on? The delay has been extremely frustrating for everyone involved. It’s just the New York way, the “hurry up and wait.” I’m confident it will all workout in the end. We definitely plan to do something special, a great platform for the arts. Next on tap is this pop up concept we’ve named, tongue firmly in cheek, “Popped.” It’s basically a reaction to the boredom we feel about the nightlife scene these days. I hope the crowd will appreciate the effort to do something special and, as always, overtly original. Much of our time has been focused on the production of the film, Don Peyote. Don Peyote chronicles the aftermath of one man’s (Dan Fogler) comedic apocalyptic dream, and subsequent synchronicity-filled search for answers as he goes down the rabbit hole of 2012 mythology. During the course of Don’s journey there are surprising cameos by Daniel Pinchbeck, Jay Baruchel, Anne Hathaway, Joe Coleman, Anthony Haden Guest, Billy Leroy, Dean Winters and others. It’s been a great ride, Many artist from the Collective Hardware days have helped to build sets and give the film its soul. On Monday the 23rd, we will be doing a short presentation/screening to raise more funds to continue this passion project that Dan Fogler, Michael Canzoniero, and I have been working on since Collective Hardware. It’s all that’s left from that time.

So I hear you’ve landed in the old Canal Room space. Tell me about the first event? The first event is Sunday May 22nd. I’m still putting together the roster of artists, musicians and DJ’s. But I promise you, it will be amazing! We got a high water mark to reach, considering we haven’t done anything public since the closing of CH almost exactly a year ago. We are extremely fortunate to have a corporate sponsor, XL energy drink is throwing down for the cause. Some more info: Kick-off party for artists, galleries, collectors, art/fashion/film/society and title sponsor guests. Weekly Sunday events featuring a crowd of the Art, Music, & Tastemakers of the Downtown NYC culture. Weekly Mondays are events featuring movie screenings & intellectual interludes with Daniel Pinchbeck, Anthony Haden Guest, and others followed by music after-party. Artist/Hustlers include: Pork, Spam, Gaia, Ezo, Kimyon Huggins, Scott Alger, Ellis Gallagher, Lisa Melezik, Peter Makebish, and Dominick Leon DeFelippo. More are signing on everyday.

How did you get into the space? What’s been going on there? Everything old is new again. I opened the place well over a decade ago as Shine. Those old enough to remember would say it certainly held its own, and has its place in NYC lore. Rony and I have been working on a pop-up cultural concept that will combine aspects of the movie, as well as artists and musicians we have been working with. Canal Room just came to me in one of those “ah-ha’ moments. They have been operating as great corporate event space, and hosting a couple of regular gigs on the weekend. It seemed like the perfect fit. Marcus Linial and Sam Lott (owners of Canal Room) are family, They are also probably the only ones crazy enough to play with me these days. What have you learned from the Collective experience, and what won’t you do this time? What will you be doing more of? I think we learned that anything is possible, but you have to balance the dream with the practical world. During one of the darkest economic periods NYC has seen we were able to conjure some real magic with no funding—just sheer will and vision. We will, no doubt, be bringing all of that with us to all future projects. We will be much more diligent in securing financial backing to make it practical.That’s just the world in which we live.

At one point, you, Rony, and Collective were the Obi Wan Kenobi’s of the scene—our only hope. These days the scene is more vibrant. Did Collective lead the way out of the darkness, and will this be anti-climatic, or a new revelation and path? Last week the New Museum outdoor art instillation made me wish we still had the building. I guess CH was just a bit ahead of its time. We will never be able to do that again. It was its own thing, it gave me knowledge that was priceless. Nothing was harder to pull off than that was, anything else down the road will be a walk in the park. Whatever comes next will be it’s own thing, I only compete against myself, so I’m just trying to keep it fresh—like any other Mad Scientist. The best is yet to come. Trust the power of the force.

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