• On the Ground
    Canal Street Research Association
    José Esparza Chong Cuy
    Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York
    Jan to Dec 2023
    Storefront for Art and Architecture

Storefront for Art and Architecture's inaugural program at 51 Prince St, 1982. Courtesy Storefront for Art and Architecture

On the Ground is an exhibition series launched to honor Storefront’s 40th anniversary. The project celebrates the urban form of the storefront space, a key element of the organization’s founding vision, and highlights its relationship to public life. Through artist commissions at retail and community spaces around New York City, Storefront aims to create dialogue and spark conversation about the role of third spaces in urban settings, the transformation of our cities over time, and the complex dynamics at play in retail, commercial, and community settings in various neighborhoods and socioeconomic contexts. Beyond sharing the stories of New York City’s ground floor uses, On the Ground seeks to create connections and cultivate relationships between artists and community establishments. Through this project, the artists build upon an existing relationship with their neighbors, to create an exchange that seeks to understand mutual desires and struggles, empathize with and promote each other’s needs, and, ultimately deepen community in place. The exhibition series launches in early 2023 with a project by Canal Street Research Association.

Canal Street Research Association is the office entity of poetic research unit Shanzhai Lyric who repurpose the storefront as space for gathering ephemeral histories, mapping local lore, and tracing the flows and fissures of global capital. A microcosm of global trade routes, Canal Street has held allure for generations of artists to occupy this zone of exchange—where high meets low, art meets commerce, and original meets copy. In the midst of the current retail apocalypse, Canal Street Research Association revisits projects both massive and minute that have transpired on the storied block, speculating new modes of inhabiting this complex interplay of hustles.

José Esparza Chong Cuy is the executive director and chief curator at Storefront for Art and Architecture. Esparza Chong Cuy serves as the initiator and key curatorial voice of the organization, and he guides conceptualization, design, and production of the work. Prior to Storefront, he served as the Pamela Alper Associate Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA), which he joined in 2016. At the MCA, he coorganized a major collection exhibition to celebrate the museum’s 50th anniversary; curated solo shows of Tania Pérez Córdova, Mika Horibuchi, Jonathas de Andrade; a major commission with Federico Herrero; a collection show of recent acquisitions; and a large-scale retrospective on the life and work of Lina Bo Bardi, coorganized with the Museu de arte de São Paulo and the Museo Jumex in Mexico City. Prior to the MCA, Esparza Chong Cuy was associate curator at the Museo Jumex. From 2007–12 he lived in New York and held positions as curatorial associate at Storefront for Art and Architecture, research fellow at the New Museum for Contemporary Art, and contributing editor at Domus magazine. In 2013 he was cocurator of the Lisbon Architecture Triennial, titled Close, Closer. He is a graduate of Columbia University’s graduate program Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture.

Storefront for Art and Architecture advances innovative and critical ideas that contribute to the design of cities, territories, and public life. Storefront's exhibitions, events, competitions, publications, and projects provide alternative platforms for dialogue and collaboration across disciplinary, geographic, and ideological boundaries. Since its founding in 1982, Storefront has presented the work of over one thousand architects and artists.