The end of an era

It’s a sad, sad sight to arrive in New York City and see Pearl Paint closed up for good. I knew as soon as I caught a glimpse of its wonky red and white checkerboard facade that I had to do a sketch of it, because who knows what it will look like next year when I come back. No doubt a condo will be in its place. I started shopping for art supplies at the Canal Street location when I was an art student in university and since then no trip to NY has been complete without a pilgrimage to this art supply mecca. I couldn’t get the whole building in my sketch because I’m travelling with only a small sketchbook, but the thrill of shopping here was always taking the worn out stairs from floor to floor and picking up something new on every level, usually something I couldn’t find in Montreal. I will miss you Pearl.



32 Comments on “The end of an era”

  1. John Bartoldus says:

    Shari . . . I did the same thing two weeks ago when I was in NYC, great minds think alike. Enjoy every second in my hometown. If you have a moment, you might think about going to the Aquavella Gallery (FREE) at 18 East 79th Street between Fifth Avenue and Madison and check out the Jean-Michael Basquait exhibition. The gallery is in a huge mansion and it makes for a great place to view art. Here’s a link . . .


    • Kristiina Sakai says:

      Hi John. I, too, considered NYC my hometown at one time. See my comment further down.
      Thanks for the link to the Aquavella Gallery.


  2. Claudio Saes says:

    I’m from Brazil and have been there 4 times and every one I was so amazed. This is an end of an era indeed:(


  3. Les says:

    Shari, very nice piece with a lot of interest to it. The colors are wonderful. I assume you stood the whole time? How long did it take?


  4. Monique Laforge says:

    Bonjour Shari. J’étais à New York il y a une semaine et je me faisais un plaisir d’aller magasiner chez Pearl, dont j’avais pris la peine de vérifier les heures d’ouverture sur Internet. Quelle déception de me trouver devant un grillage cadenassé !
    Vu aussi l’expo Schiele, Basquiat, Twombly, à ne pas manquer.


    • Bonjour Monique! What a disappointment that must have been for you! Although I hear that it recent months it hasn’t been a great experience to shop there. Merci pour les autres expos! La temperature était tellement beau qu’on a pas vu ni musées, ni expositions! On a passé le temps à marcher et promener dans différentes coins de New York.


  5. Tim Mancusi says:

    A beautiful painting. I like the angled shadow across the “Pearl Paint” sign.
    I attended the School of Visual Arts in 1969 on 23rd St. and remember walking
    south through that district many times.


  6. Nicole says:

    That’s so sad! Thank you for capturing a great memory. I too was an art student in NY, and Pearl truly was a Mecca.


  7. Kristiina Sakai says:

    What memories! I lived in NYC on the upper west side from 1973-1980. Although I wasn’t doing a lot of art at the time , I made regular trips to Pearl Paint just because I found it such a fascinating place crammed full of art stuff. I bought my first set of Prismacolor pencils there among many other things. – Thank you for the wonderful sketch and the good memories. I’m sad to see it gone.


  8. pegjuanita says:

    Shari, I know that store well! You’ve done a great sketch! I too, lived in NYC from 67-69, and then visited off and on several times, but it wasn’t until I stayed with a friend with a brain tumor in 2001, that I “discovered” Pearl Paint. What a shame that something like that would close!


  9. tmikeporter says:

    Likely a casualty of internet art supply shopping? Small shops like this are to be treasured while they are still here. A relatively new one in Portland, Muse Art and Design, on the east side seems to be doing well. There is local support for local shops, and hopefully enough.


    • No doubt a casualty of online shopping. I too like my local art supply shop in Montreal. They carry merchandise that no one else does and their service is excellent. Like they used to sing on “Cheers”: Where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came…


  10. Lee Kline says:

    Thanks for this. i love recording our old downtown and have the toughest time doing it. Your paintings of old buildings inspires me. This is so nice.


  11. Connie says:

    Hi Shari, I was Fine Arts student at JAC in the late ’80’s, and remember so clearly the vist to Pearl’s on the annual trip to New York. I was entranced by the creaking stairs and sales staff, hidden corners and incredible possibilities – my imagination and creativity was sparked, and I still remember it vividly. I am so sorry that it is gone, but your sketch has brought back such a fantastic rush 😉


  12. Ross says:

    Nicely captured… love those diagonal shadows. So sad that the store has closed… I recall previous posts of your purchases there. Possibly a casualty of Internet shopping… which doesn’t work well for me when I am looking for new art materials… you just can’t touch anything!
    And now a little lesson in drawing… “I couldn’t get the whole building in my sketch because I’m traveling with only a small sketchbook”… now, really, does that make sense? Yesterday, in the same “small sketchbook” you painted a mountain range! Do you see what I am getting at?


    • I see what you are getting at Ross.
      Sometimes when I start a sketch I rough in the shape of the full building (and then add details) but in this case I started a little differently. I began with the lettering for Pearl Paint. I wanted to make sure I got all the letters in, so that was what determined the size of the sketch.


  13. Martha says:

    So sad to read the end if Pearl. My favourite place to shop….the only place to shop for art materials.


  14. Wow, I can’t believe it closed. I bought my first portfolio there! I love your painting. Thanks


  15. Excellent watercolor !


  16. Utterly beautiful capture, though of course, bittersweet. I’m sure part of you wanted to go in there, here the floors creak, take in a lung full of oil paint fumes, and climb the alpine stairs to the second floor to check out the paint brushes, then to the third floor for papers and sketchbooks, followed by the fourth floor for pens. Sad to see Pearl go, but given their shady business dealings, I’m not too surprised.


    • Yes, Jason, despite all the shady stuff, I was still really sad not to go there.
      For some reason I think that I have always gone there at the end of a long day of touring NY, so my memories have always been of dragging myself up those dark stairs. One by one, with very tired legs.


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