Bar Bones was a site-specific sculpture installation inside one of New York's oldest and most iconic bars– Sunny's Bar. Each sculpture, embedded within the bar's table tops, represents a blueprint section of the bar's unchanged structure. This work serves as tribute to the beloved neighborhood bar and is dedicated to the memory of its owner, the late Sunny Balzano, who passed away in early 2016.


Artist Statement :

Sunny’s Bar, tucked away on a cobblestone street in Red Hook, is one of Brooklyn’s oldest waterfront bars. Over the years, an assortment of patrons– longshoremen, mobsters and artists, both colorful and ordinary– have frequented the bar. Such patrons, as well as the bar owner, Sunny Balzano, served as inspiration for Tim Sultan’s novel, Sunny’s Nights. Despite the devastation following Hurricane Sandy, the iconic bar is still standing. It has earned and maintained its status of a Red Hook institution and is described in the New York Times as “the neighborhood’s spiritual outpost”.

Sunny’s Bar has depth and decades of memories. In Sunny’s words, “you walk through, you can feel the history of time”. When visiting the bar, one would hear stories about the old Red Hook, the characters and the friendships. Yet amongst all the joy and camaraderie, the music and alcohol, there is always a feeling of concern. Red Hook is changing and Sunny passed away earlier this year.

In light of these concerns, I began looking for a way to capture the sense of permanence and change, which has become a central topic both at Sunny’s and Red Hook in general. I chose to focus on the bar’s architectural floor plan– the most objective, unchanged representation of Sunny’s Bar– the skeleton of the space. As I studied the technical plan, I found myself remembering events and stories that took place between the boundaries of the tracings. Such floor plans may offer objective information, but they can also serve as a vessel for memories or a kind of remnant.

Bar Bones is a new collection of sculptures inspired from selected sections of the Sunny's floor plan. It touches on the bar's history, resilience and fragility. The sculptures are placed in relation to the actual space they represent, displayed and illuminated within specially constructed table tops. The works may resemble relics, but as usable table tops they will serve as the background to the everyday activities of Sunny’s Bar. I imagine walking through Sunny’s hearing visitors recounting past events and pointing at the spaces within the illuminated sculptures. I imagine the “bar bones” generating new memories and encounters, as well as becoming an organic part of Sunny’s Bar.