Scharf is known for his cartoony murals and paintings that started popping up around New York in the early 1980s. His Cosmic Cavern takes his body of work and turns it up — way up. The glowing space seems like an sculptural installation at first, with three dimensional elements built up around several of Scharf’s iconic murals that are painted on different surfaces around the space.
But upon closer inspection visitors will realize that the glowing sculptures are actually recycled everyday objects! Plastic colanders are painted neon yellow and transformed into chandelier pieces, coils of old telephone cords dangle from the ceiling like streamers, and simple plastic cups are transformed into bursting sculptures.
Surveying the ceiling is like a review of the trash the artist has seen built up around his neighborhood. You can see what type of items the artist is drawn to — mostly cast off plastic toys and household goods that aren’t cleared for recycling, like heavy-duty kids’ toys, and hard plastics from the 1980s. Seeing these unrecyclables (in the traditional way) as building blocks, Scharf collects them, paints them neon colors, then affixes them to the ceiling or walls of the Cosmic Cavern.
With the aid of black lights, the room glows like a hyperreal Alice in Wonderland scene. To complete the recycled neon wonderland, Scharf requires his guests to dress in Day Glo themselves, making them part of his largest living art installation.
Images ©Lori Zimmer