When I first started to re-immerse myself into making art again, I was dazzled to have stumbled upon the art mecca of Pearl Paint. A multi-tiered art supply behemoth in Chinatown, I always marveled at the endless rows of delightful products that I could buy (and ultimately not really know what to do with all of them), the settled-in smell of paper mingling with a touch of dust and old paint, and the expertise of the staff, many of whom were artists themselves.
Shopping at Pearl Paint made me really feel like an artist. I could find anything I needed for my projects and experiments. It also made feel really young because they cashiers always assumed from looking at me that I was still a student in art school without having to produce any ID.
I dutifully visited for years but then within the last several monthsI noticed the store seemed to go into decline. Inventory seemed to thin out and the place looked increasingly thin. I was concerned and asked some of the employees what was going on. Were they going out of business? They shrugged and said that wasn't the case but I wasn't convinced. It go to the point that I had to start shopping elsewhere to get the things I needed.
Then a few weeks ago, articles in the local papers started speculating about whether Pearl Paint would be the latest casualty in a steadily gentrifying New York. Places that seemed like cultural bastions in the city were being erased from the landscape to make way for the steady march of chain stores and high rents.
On Monday, it became official and my art home was shuttered for good. I was terribly sad. I will miss fighting my way through the Chinatown throngs of tourists and knock-off purse vendors to see the iconic Pearl Paint store sign shining like a beacon in the distance. I cringe at what will take its place, though those of who have been around long enough know that nothing really will.
Farewell my dear Pearl.