As I arrived at Atrium NYC, located at Broadway and Bleecker, I wondered what could possibly wait behind its brownstone façade. The function was a launch of Molly Crabapple’s Dirtee Hollywood t-shirt line.

I was familiar with Crabapple’s work, which always made me imagine Edward Gorey scooting around the Tuileries with a sketchpad, illustrating courtiers and peers gallivanting and imbibing, full of whimsy. The thought of a Crabapple / Dirtee collaboration waiting behind Atrium’s doors was most exciting – I eagerly entered.

The environment was perfect for this line’s launch. Burlesque models, decked out in Crabapples t-shirts and Louis Quatorze-era coiffure, navigated the tables upon which Atrium displays merchandise. Coy and silent as they paraded, it took some courage to approach one of them and strike up conversation. But once I had mustered the spirit to do so, my model of choice was perfectly friendly. When asked what her role at the launch was, she answered, “My job here is to be a mannequin,” adjusting her lower body into a slightly different pose and gazing into the lens of a camera. She was certainly executing her role to perfection.

At the rear of the store was located the bar. Sponsored by Amp Energy Drink, Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka, and Alma de Agave Tequila (among others), libations were passed out left and right. After picking up a cocktail, attendees could meander towards the guest of honor. Crabapple placed herself in the center of the party with an easel and pencil, where she demonstrated her sketching skills.

Chatting with her was easy and delightful. She would sketch for a few seconds, enjoy her green lollypop for another, and then describe her work. I pointed to a certain shirt on which my favorite illustration was printed, a seductive female figure blowing bubbles into the shoulder extremities of the tee. Crabapple nodded. “Bubbles are so fun to draw,” she said.

I’m not qualified to support her statement, but I will say that the evening was a success. The focus remained on Crabapple and her work, which is the point of a brand launch. Take a look at her website to better acquaint yourself with this artist’s unique work.

 – Antonio