Image courtesy of Helen Allen Smith Image courtesy of Helen Allen Smith
By Camilla Webster



It was another Tuesday night in New York. I had taken too many trains and automobiles and I was early to the gallery event. LUMAS was the place.

I hopped onto the curb in my snow boots and looked around to find my bearings, since I was guilty of having my head in my phone this journey downtown in a cab from Penn Station.

When I looked across the street and spotted Alice + Olivia with Stacy Bendet’s streak of black hair and memorable bouche pouting out at me through the shop window, I was suddenly aware that I was standing on one of my favorite streets. Cobblestones under foot, I was on Washington just by The Standard, the Hudson River, steps from Soho House and the Highline.

There’s a certain kind of light down there you can’t find elsewhere around New York.

I turned around to stare at a delicious series of bikini-clad ladies in rows behind the glass of a gallery — a welcome visual retreat from the “snowmageddon.”

There it was, LUMAS.

 ArtBeat:  Illuminated by LUMAS
Image courtesy of Helen Allen Smith

All I knew about LUMAS was that the Germans who started it had a firm belief that art is for everyone and, as that’s the point of this series, I was keen to find out more.

Mingling with a creative, but not necessarily artsy set, our host soon invited us to create a storyboard with the works of art on plastic panels. Ostriches and owls heads emerged from grand vestments of traditional portraiture; surrealist men dotted around fields and landscapes.

The game was appealing and I liked the touch and feel of the acrylic glass panels. I quickly learned they were only $34 each, a piece of contemporary art many of us can afford.

 ArtBeat:  Illuminated by LUMAS
Image courtesy of Helen Allen Smith

I was invited to tell a story, and was told by my friend, Helen Allen Smith, that whoever won the storytelling at the event, would get to bring home the panels.

I chose panels with a Star Wars pop art nostalgia series called “Cloned Photos” by Lumas. In my story board of art works, the storm troopers were aliens who wanted to get back to their home planet. Their mission was to recreate the most famous photos of New York culture before they went home.

First my aliens recreated the construction workers on break at the Empire State Building; then they posed for Eisenstadt’s Kiss in Times Square. They’d never kissed before. Some of them fell in love, and some of them got jealous, so it was easy to recreate the famous fight photo between Mohammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Frazier knocked down. After the photo series was complete, they were sent back to their planet and were heavily analyzed.

On their journey, they learned four human emotions: courage, love, jealousy and anger — emotions that happen to be primal to both the creation of art and its appreciation.

A glowing feeling filled my body after that brief creative foray and then it was time to jet. I didn’t think I was going to win the storytelling, but I noted I could take my work and my story from my heart for little over $100 for the post card-sized art called LUMSA ART NOW (#lumasartnow).

That’s pretty good in a neighborhood where $100 might get you dinner for one! LUMAS was on the right path for the people.

When I left LUMAS with an Irish goodbye, a gallery assistant ran after me with a goody bag. I thanked her and pulled out the LUMAS picture inside. It was a bull.

At first I was disappointed that I didn’t get one of the pretty pictures of storm troopers or surrealist men in fields: I got a bull against some wall paper. I almost ran back to exchange it and then I smiled, because I was standing in the Meatpacking District and that image couldn’t be more appropriate for a native like me, who knew this place when all it really did was serve up bull.

Art is for everyone and, if you keep looking, it’s everywhere in New York — just get your head out of your phone.

 ArtBeat:  Illuminated by LUMAS
Image courtesy of Helen Allen Smith