Last night, R.E.M. front man, Michael Stipe, unveiled his sculptures at the new Rogan boutique on Bowery. On display through the end of July, the ROGAN vs. STIPE show features sculptures of obsolete objects, like Polaroid cameras and cassette tapes, cast in bronze. The eye-catching new window display to go with it is made of haphazardly stacked alarm-clock boxes that appear to be spilling from a closed window out into the street. So where on earth did this all come from? Stipe met Rogan Gregory after he bought a T-shirt in the store and found it so well-made he returned to find out where they were manufactured. Gregory was in the store and recognized Stipe from — as Stipe puts it — his “day job.” That was six years ago and they’ve been chummy since. They say the recent artistic collaboration just sort of happened.
To round out Stipe’s bronze items, and the window boxes, Gregory contributed paintings to the exhibit. “I think Michael has an amazing sense of humor. I mean, some of this is really funny — it’s ridiculous. I mean it’s like, fucking, supersized-alarm-clock cardboard,” he said. “I think we have a good visual dialogue. And we’re kind of collaborative.” So, if there’s so much bromance going on, why the antagonistic moniker? “That’s where the ‘versus’ thing is really funny — because he and I are so in line with each other aesthetically that there really isn’t any tension. We’re like, ‘Fuck it, we need to create some tension here, dude,’” he explained. The precariously placed boxes are meant to add to that, but aren’t they afraid they might get hijacked, since they’re sitting on the sidewalk? “Yeah, they’re going to be gone tomorrow,” Gregory shrugged. (If they need replacing he’s got leftovers in the basement.)
Gregory said he wants to show new exhibits in the store every six weeks or so. He has one on tap for six weeks from now that “involves kimonos,” but wouldn’t reveal the artist. “He’s one of the more clever, creative people that I’ve met,” he said of the mystery person. “We kind of have these — I don’t know how to put it. Whenever we talk it’s like we get into this banter back and forth about ideas that are kind of absurd. It’s like a different language. It’s weird. I used to know these Icelandic people and get really fucked-up, and we’d speak in this separate dialect. I can’t even tell you.” Whatever that means, it sounds like a fabulous bonding method! Is alcohol necessary to partake? “It’s a catalyst, but it’s not necessary.” We’ll just pretend he said “Yes.” — Alisa Gould-Simon