Jay's house

Jay's house - student project

Starting off my project with the Camera Rollette warmup, and will be updating as I go along in the other exercises!

1. Camera Rollette

This photo shows the inside of Jay Maisel's former residence on the corner of Bowery and Spring in lower Manhattan. The mysterious building would surface in the news every few years, as passers-by pondered what might be inside.

The exterior completely covered in graffiti and seemingly abandoned, the building's story always surprised internet-wanderers when they discovered it was actually home to renowned photographer and Art Directors Club Hall of Fame laureate, Jay Maisel.

Jay lived in this 35,000 square foot, 72-room mansion with just his small family, and kept it mostly secret to the public eye for decades by allowing the city's artists to paint a camouflage shell around it with aerosol and wheatpaste.

(I assume he just gave up trying to keep it clean after the first several attempts.)

Long story short, Jay recently sold the building for $55 MILLION. He had originally purchased it in the 60s for roughly $100k. Reports say they're turning it into a bunch of retail stores. Because we needed more shopping in SoHo.


Jay's house - image 1 - student project


In terms of what disruptive idea this could turn into? A few thought starters:

  • Don't judge a book by its cover: highlighting the juxtaposition of gritty exterior with luxury interior – maybe have a rich/influential person disguise themselves as homeless and record how people treat them differently
  • A community stance against gentrification and displacement of lower-income people
  • A statement about income inequality / wage gap (just a few steps from this soon-to-be luxury retailer building, there is the Bowery Mission and dozens of people sleeping on the street)
  • Old meets new: something pertaining to historical preservation, to make sure the new developers maintain the soul of this building 
  • Graffiti that doesn't look like graffiti: since 190 Bowery has been completely covered in street art for decades, and now they will attempt to powerwash its exterior and build retail stores, I'm wondering if there's a way to continue the graffiti tradition – but not make it obvious that this is graffiti. Some kind of artwork that intertwines with ads or branding from the retailers (a la Hanksy) or comes off as innocent and nonthreatening (a la Invader). 

More ideas to come as I work through the other exercises! 

Would love your feedback (Ivan + fellow students) on the notes above – feel free to drop a comment below and we can brainstorm together.


Zack Kinslow
Content Manager, Skillshare