Written by Brenden Gallagher (@muddycreekU)
You’ve seen it. Stumble out of the bar after a night of boozing, and you’ll spot it somewhere between the train and your stoop. When you stop at the local bodega for a sandwich or empanada, you notice huge mismatched images of food: burgers, bagels, and chicken legs arrayed, collage-like, in the window. The cluttered displays are a reminder of where you are and what you came for.
These exhibitions are commonly referred to as bodega art, as work this unique, this visceral, can only be found on the sides of convenience stores and small groceries.
Of course, the work is not without precedent. One could look to Caravaggio's dark and overflowing still lifes for the early roots of bodega art, or the modernist collages of Picasso. Some even argue that bodega art is the logical extension of the popular photorealist movement of the '60s and '70s, where artists mimicked the precision of photographs. Of course, bodega art actually uses photographs. But there's a painterly quality—anyone can see that.
We're lucky enough to have ten pieces of bodega art from the Brooklyn-based Burkat Collection, a small but burgeoning gallery, to help the world better understand this urban phenomenon.
If you are moved by these works and want to share bodega art of your own, tweet us your #bodegaart at @ComplexGuide.