By Melissa Coci


Molly Crabapple’s poster for The Shell Game. via

When a crowd gathers in New York City on a Friday night to stare inside a window– especially a freezing ‘spring’ night – you know whatever is in that window must be pretty damn special. Such was the case for the opening of illustrator Molly Crabapple’s latest exhibition The Shell Game at Smart Clothes Gallery on the Lower East Side.

So what had roused the attention of the normally blasé Manhattanites? Nothing that out of the ordinary, just international adult film star Stoya bathing in a tub full of money, complete with Marie Antoinette wig and diamante pasties. For those lucky enough to be inside the cosy gallery, they were there to help Stoya celebrate her friend Molly Crabapple’s newest art works. Upon closer umm, inspection, Ms.Antoinette’s money was actually ‘one million dollar’ bills designed by Crabapple, with a friendly reminder on them that they’re ‘not legal tender you dolt’.

Believe it or not, Stoya was far from the main attraction of the night – Molly Crabapple’s Shell Game exhibition was a knockout. Featuring nine paintings, eight of which are an impressive 6′x4′, (six out of the nine pieces were sold before the exhibition opened –you go girlfriend!), this is some art not to be missed. The pieces are about the revolutions and crises of 2011. These include Occupy Wall Street, austerity measures in Greece and the mortgage bubble.

On first glance, the paintings seem wildly cheerful with a circus-like quality. It is only when you focus on the incredible detail that you realize how disturbing the scenes Crabapple depicts are. A personal favorite depicted the health care industry, where mice in hospital gowns were being grinded into gold coins.

To round out the opening, Kim Boekbinder sang a tune especially written for the night and allegedly there was a magician running a real shell game. Unfortunately my senses were overloaded at this point and needed to return to the cold Manhattan air.

Photo of Molly Crabapple at  The Shell Game exhibit by Dre Grigoropol

Photo of Molly Crabapple at  The Shell Game exhibit by Dre Grigoropol.

Do yourself a favor and head down see Molly Crabapple’s exhibition. It will be open until April 23rd 2013, at Smart Clothes Gallery, located at 154 Stanton Street, between Houston and Suffolk, New York, 10002.


[Melissa Coci is a 26-year- old from Perth, Western Australia. Recent accomplishments include finally watching When Harry Met Sally and getting her Italian Passport. She is currently in New York interning at Bust Magazine so she can be a writer and not a drug dealer (that’s a fancy way of saying pharmacist). Follow her on twitter @MelissaCoci ]


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