Chris Rubino Creates Times Square Souvenirs for Tourists, Locals

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New York’s Times Square teems with souvenir shops that cater to insatiable tourist appetites for things like Statue of Liberty foam hats, city landmarks sloshing around in snowglobes and floaty pens, I ♥ NY shotglasses, and appliqué t-shirts as far as the eye can see. While many creative types shy away from these emporiums of kitsch, artist-designer Chris Rubino is setting up one of his own. Opening next Friday, May 30, at Chashama‘s space in the heart of Times Square is “The Center of Something,” a solo show that exhibits Rubino’s take on New York as a destination for both visiting and living. The “limited tourist attraction” is on view through June 15.

The idea for a souvenir shop-themed show came when non-profit arts organization Chashama approached Rubino with two possible exhibition spaces, one in downtown Manhattan and one in Times Square. “I was immediately interested in the 44th Street location,” Rubino told us of the rare opportunity to show his work at the so-called crossroads of the world. “I love New York and wanted to play around creating a little bit of a love letter/love lost New York theme…[and] also to give the foot traffic in Times Square a look at the New York that we live in everyday.”

The installation will consist of souvenirs as well as hand-drawn screenprints that recreate pieces of the New York daily visual language, including maps, ads, and signage. Among Rubino’s favorite works are the 20 postcards he created from his photos that capture “pieces of the city that a tourist would most likely never experience.” As for the goods sold by neighboring shops, Rubino favors a souvenir “that shows a little pride, possibly having a large rating on the kitsch scale,” he told us. “I recently saw a statue of liberty holding a snowglobe and inside there is another lady liberty holding a snowglobe containing a third statue. Amazing.”

“The Center of Something” opens on Friday, May 30, with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. at Chashama (112 West 44th Street, betwixt 6th Avenue and Broadway).