NEW YORK — If you go gallery hopping on West 24th Street on Saturday, you’ll probably see a lemonade stand. And though the heat may have you lusting for a glass, you won’t find any actual beverages. Instead, a group of girls from the Fieldston high school on the Upper West Side will attempt to sell you a framed print of a lemon for $25. I get it, you’ll think: This is West Chelsea, so even the lemonade stands must be art installations.
The project (or stunt, depending on your perspective) is the work of the painter Max Eisenstein and his friend, artist Louie Lane. The idea came to them as they were leaving an opening at the Andrea Rosen Gallery, a little inebriated. “Everything seemed so postured,” Eisenstein says. “It’s an era of high-tech, high-concept ideas and we wanted to do something intentionally low brow. So we just thought a lemonade stand would be funny but, instead of lemonade, we’d sell the images of lemons.” The pair made 20 prints of 10 different drawings. So far, they’ve sold 80 pieces over the two Saturdays they’ve stationed themselves on 10th Avenue across from Bottino; Saturday will be the installation’s final day and the lemonade stand will be situated in front of Rosen’s space.
“Life gives you lemons, you make lemonade,” Eisenstein says. “It could be a great metaphor for the art-making process. But at the end of the day, it’s just a lemonade stand.”
The young women operating the stand are friends of Eisenstein’s 16-year-old brother, Leo, who also goes to Fieldston. The women haven’t been able to work lately because they’ve been at home studying for final exams, but they’ve really squeezed, shall we say, the experiment for all it’s worth. “They tell people that they’re the Lemon Sisters,” laughs Eisenstein. “They all got it so well. They’re Fieldston girls, so they’re savvy and wearing cute sundresses. They know how to parody the whole experience of being in Chelsea on a Saturday.”
Eisenstein, who is 24 and lives in the East Village, will hold his first solo show at the Kantor Gallery in Los Angeles in October. In the meantime, he’s thinking of ways to compensate the girls for their services. “We’re going to give them prints,” he says. “Or at least take them out to a nice dinner.”
— Marshall Heyman