For most who know it, Dustin Yellin’s Pioneer Works is nothing more than an irritatingly far venue, trekked to for the occasional art party and Rachel Comey presentation.
“It’s a utopia,” Dustin Yellin said on Tuesday night. He wasn’t kidding.
This story first appeared in the November 13, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In truth, it’s a warehouse that sits on a half-acre-wide lot in a remote waterfront tract of Red Hook. It was conceived as a “utopian” center of art and culture, a commune of sorts where terms like “artisan incubator,” or “creative collective” are thrown around non-ironically. It’s colossal in scale, by New York real estate standards at least, and houses aspiring artists and…scientists?
“We have a very comprehensive residency program for artists and scientists,” Yellin continued.
He was making a toast at a Swarovski-hosted dinner held to celebrate his collaboration with designer Misha Nonoo. Yellin had created a series of prints based off of his works for Nonoo’s spring collection. Naturally, the party was held at his Brooklyn compound. Holding up their glasses of vino was a selection of Nonoo and Yellin’s friends: Constance Jablonski, Lindsay Ellingson, Doutzen Kroes, Alina Cho, Mickey Sumner, Indre Rockefeller, Waris Ahluwalia, Paul Andrew, Zani Gugelmann, Bobbi Brown, Phil Winsor, Jamie Johnson and Tali Lennox, who curiously wore a raccoon hat à la Davy Crockett.
“I don’t want to talk about this too long,” Yellin went on. “But you guys should go upstairs and look around. Check it out.” A couple of curious guests did just that between courses. Upstairs, on a private mezzanine, there were booths where artists toiled away. In a separate studio, a dozen or so people were doing yoga handstands.
Earlier in the night, cocktails were held at Yellin’s studio, an equally massive space next door. At the center of it, surrounded by dollies, slabs of wood, plastic wrapping and dust stood “Psychogeographies,” the series of works from which the Nonoo prints were lifted. They’re sculptures, or three-dimensional collages, depending on who you asked. Essentially, each piece in the series is a mix of magazine cutouts and acrylic paint swipes sealed in glass resin. The slabs are layered to form a vaguely human form. From afar, they look like a phalanx of Terminator-like cyborgs encased in blocks of ice. Close up, it’s a collection of paint swirls and seemingly random cutouts — Robin Williams’ face, a helium element snipped from the Periodic Table, a Visa credit card — suspended in air. The prints were formed from a cross section of each piece.
“Why thank you, thank you,” Yellin shrugged with affected sheepishness when partygoers gushed over the series. He became far less sheepish when his trot on the Nonoo runway came up (Yellin did a surprise turn during the Nonoo show in a silk halter minidress and four-inch patent heels, a Starbucks venti in his hand).
“He wanted to get his willy out on the runway,” Nonoo said.
“I wanted to have it out,” Yellin said, slightly slurry. “I’m going to wear dresses all the time now. It makes my ass show off,” he said, then turning around and pulling his jeans down a few inches before Nonoo intervened. “Put that back in there,” she said, stopping him. “That’s Dustin Yellin for you,” she laughed.