In the last several years, the term “pop up” has become ubiquitous in the art world. The majority of these related, newfound endeavors — brief exhibitions, stores and happenings — make charming use of relatively sparse, small storefronts. In this vein, I’ve come to expect a bit of space-maximizing ingenuity from the pop-up crowd. And yet I couldn’t have been more pleased to find the exact opposite at No Longer Empty’s latest temporary exhibition, This Side of Paradise. The sprawling show occupies more than 20 rooms of the abandoned Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx and takes its name from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first novel, a fitting tale of greed and social ambition.
The curious history of a former retirement home for wealthy elderly people fallen on hard times and the contemporary Bronx community now surrounding that home provide rich material for the 32 artists in No Longer Empty’s current exhibit, This Side of Paradise. Sharing its name with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first novel, which follows the trials of a man seeking and losing love, wealth and status, This Side of Paradise inhabits the Andrew Freedman Home on the Grand Concourse, a stately structure sitting behind a fence and broad lawn.