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Peek Inside This Boarded-Up NYC Mansion

The Germania Bank building in New York City is a bit of an enigma. Built in 1898, the six-story Renaissance Revival structure is now best known as the boarded up, graffiti-covered building simply called 190 Bowery. Nearly 50 years ago, photographer Jay Maisel (who is known for his shots of Marilyn Monroe, Miles Davis, and his chronicling of New York street life) bought the entire building for $102,000—a steal, to say the least, especially for 38,000 square feet of prime SoHo real estate.

It wasn’t that way when he purchased the property, though. When Maisel moved in in 1966, the neighborhood was seedy and derelict, and the building was a disaster. “Every single thing that can come out of a human body has been left on my doorstep,” Maisel told New York Magazine in 2008. “It was more disgusting than dangerous.”

Maisel began making some ad-hoc renovations to the 72 rooms and maintained the property as his private home and studio. He briefly rented out floors as studios to artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Adolph Gottlieb in the late ‘60s, and allowed the outside to become a studio of sorts to some other more enterprising artists. The façade of 190 has been called a mecca of street art, and even Keith Haring used to draw his famous “chalk babies” on the outside walls. “I never washed off any of Keith’s stuff,” Maisel said once. “Keith was the only person who did graffiti in chalk.”

Maisel quietly put 190 Bowery on the market last year, and it sold immediately for $55 million. The outside was stripped of its famous graffiti and the massive property, which was named a New York City landmark in 2005, will likely be turned into condos. But, as a one-night-only event, the building will be open to the public for an art show this Saturday featuring painters like Julian Schnabel and Harmony Korine. You'll need an RSVP, but this will likely be the only chance to see inside this mysterious real estate before it is completely remodeled.

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The Getty Center, Surrounded By Wildfires, Will Leave Its Art Where It Is
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The wildfires sweeping through California have left countless homeowners and businesses scrambling as the blazes continue to grow out of control in various locations throughout the state. While art lovers worried when they heard that Los Angeles's Getty Center would be closing its doors this week, as the fires closed part of the 405 Freeway, there was a bit of good news. According to museum officials, the priceless works housed inside the famed Getty Center are said to be perfectly secure and won't need to be evacuated from the facility.

“The safest place for the art is right here at the Getty,” Ron Hartwig, the Getty’s vice president of communications, told the Los Angeles Times. According to its website, the museum was closed on December 5 and December 6 “to protect the collections from smoke from fires in the region,” but as of now, the art inside is staying put.

Though every museum has its own way of protecting the priceless works inside it, the Los Angeles Times notes that the Getty Center was constructed in such a way as to protect its contents from the very kind of emergency it's currently facing. The air throughout the gallery is filtered by a system that forces it out, rather than a filtration method which would bring air in. This system will keep the smoke and air pollutants from getting into the facility, and by closing the museum this week, the Getty is preventing the harmful air from entering the building through any open doors.

There is also a water tank at the facility that holds 1 million gallons in reserve for just such an occasion, and any brush on the property is routinely cleared away to prevent the likelihood of a fire spreading. The Getty Villa, a separate campus located in the Pacific Palisades off the Pacific Coast Highway, was also closed out of concern for air quality this week.

The museum is currently working with the police and fire departments in the area to determine the need for future closures and the evacuation of any personnel. So far, the fires have claimed more than 83,000 acres of land, leading to the evacuation of thousands of people and the temporary closure of I-405, which runs right alongside the Getty near Los Angeles’s Bel-Air neighborhood.

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This 77-Year-Old Artist Saves Money on Art Supplies by 'Painting' in Microsoft Excel
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It takes a lot of creativity to turn a blank canvas into an inspired work of art. Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi makes his pictures out of something that’s even more dull than a white page: an empty spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.

When he retired, the 77-year-old Horiuchi, whose work was recently spotlighted by Great Big Story, decided he wanted to get into art. At the time, he was hesitant to spend money on painting supplies or even computer software, though, so he began experimenting with one of the programs that was already at his disposal.

Horiuchi's unique “painting” method shows that in the right hands, Excel’s graph-building features can be used to bring colorful landscapes to life. The tranquil ponds, dense forests, and blossoming flowers in his art are made by drawing shapes with the software's line tool, then adding shading with the bucket tool.

Since picking up the hobby in the 2000s, Horiuchi has been awarded multiple prizes for his creative work with Excel. Let that be inspiration for Microsoft loyalists who are still broken up about the death of Paint.

You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the artist's process in the video below.

[h/t Great Big Story]

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