Judith Leiber – Master of Craft, Glamour – and Grit

Judith Leiber at the Museum of Arts & Design, April 5, 2017

When you hear the name Judith Leiber, you immediately think of glamour, of red carpets, of those fantastic sparkling little handbags…  But you don’t necessarily think about her life before she became renowned for her minaudières – and what a life it was, as revealed in the new exhibit at the Museum of Arts & Design, Judith Leiber: Crafting a New York Story.

Born in 1921 into a wealthy family in Budapest, Judith Peto was sent at age 17 to England for her college studies, since Jews were not allowed to study in Hungarian universities.  But when WWII broke out, she returned to Hungary and went to work in a handbag manufacturer. Her father was sent to a labor camp;  some months later Judith was able to get a  Swiss pass that secured his release, and allowed Judith, her sister and her parents move into a Swiss controlled apartment – with over 20 other people. They were later forced to move to a Jewish ghetto, and then to the basement of their original apartment building, where they lived with 60 other people.   Judith began making handbags, and selling them to Americans. 

In 1945 Judith met Gerson “Gus” Leiber, an American GI; they married in 1946 and came to New York City.  Judith had a succession of jobs at different handbag companies, but they had an assembly-line approach to manufacturing, whereas Judith had learned to create a bag from start to finish – as if it were fine jewelry. 

Judith’s craftsmanship and creativity set her apart. Her first brush with fame came in 1953, when First Lady Mamie Eisenhower carried a handbag that Leiber had made (for the Nettie Rosenstein label) to the Presidential inauguration.  It wasn’t until 1966, however, that Judith Leiber opened her eponymous firm, with Gus.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

Against one wall is a timeline of seminal events, both in the designer’s life and in the world, providing a context for a career that pushed against some outstanding odds:  not only the war, but also the difficulty for immigrants and women to be taken seriously, whether as designers or businesswomen.  Judith Leiber’s story is exceptionally relevant for our times.  You’ll find cases along the walls with photos and documents from her years in Hungary.

Lyubov Sergeyevna Popova-inspired rhinestone-encrusted minaudière, Judith Leiber, 1990

Judith Leiber drew inspiration from myriad sources:  Japanese woodblock prints, Chinese iconography, the work of geometric abstractionists including Sonia Delaunay and Piet Mondrian… and her husband Gus’ paintings.  Even fruits and vegetables were transformed into rhinestone marvels in her hands. As you go through the exhibit, you also realize what a pioneer Leiber was in her use of materials, working not only with leather but also exotic skins, seashells, Japanese obis and fabrics from Iran and Africa.  While her bags are highly decorated, there is no excess in her designs, rather they are an incredible balance of form and color.  Below are some of her creations on display (it was really, really hard to narrow down the selection):

Sonia Delaunay-inspired multi-skin envelope, Judith Leiber, 2000

Leiber’s love of art has found its way into many of her designs, such as this multi-skin envelope inspired by the work of Sonia Delaunay.

Embroidered camel karung envelope, Judith Leiber, 1980

In addition to using leather, Leiber also employed exotic skins such as python, alligator, karung, ostrich and even mink!

Original chatelaine bag with crystal rhinestones, Judith Leiber, 1967

Lieber’s fame grew with the creation of the minaudière – a small, crystal-decorated bag, usually carried in the hand – that became a staple of red-carpet events.  Above is the first minaudière that she created, and it is a testament to her resourcefulness; the factory had shipped damaged gold-plated brass frames, and rather than discard them, she covered the discolored areas with crystal rhinestones.

Fish minaudière with rhinestones, Judith Leiber, 1978

Leiber also drew inspiration from nature:  the show contains wonderful examples of the bags she fashioned in the shapes of birds, flowers, fruits and vegetables.  This fish is one of my favorites (but there are so many!!)  All of the bags rest on mirrored surfaces, which allows you to see their undersides, too.

Rhinestone-encrusted minaudière after Faith Ringgold’s “Street Story Quilt,” Judith Leiber, 1987

Leiber collaborated with Faith Ringgold to create a collection of bags inspired by the artist’s quilts – the one above was inspired by Ringgold’s Street Story Quilt  (the exhibition contains Ringgold’s The Purple Quilt and a bag it inspired).

Wax model for lion minaudière by Lawrence Kallenberg 1974

Manufacturing minaudières is a complex process, involving several people.  For many years the New York based artist Lawrence Kallenberg created the wax models that were used to make the molds and then the cast-metal shells for Leiber’s sparkling clutches.

Peacock minaudière with rhinestones, Judith Leiber, 2004

In 2004, having designed 3,500 bags over 65 years, Judith Leiber retired – the peacock bag above is the last one she created.  Not only has she left a legacy of unparalleled artistry, beauty and craftsmanship, but at age 96, she can look back on a life that is testament to grit, resourcefulness in the pursuit of passion.  (The picture at the top was taken at the opening of the exhibit earlier this month).

You can find more of Judith Leiber’s handbags, as well as her husband Gus’ paintings in their museum in the Hamptons.

The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) is running panel discussions and workshops around this exhibit.

Be sure to get to MAD before the show closes on August 6th – you’ll want to go back more than once!

Zinelli and Gabritschevsky: War, Science and Personal Narrative in Art

detail, Untitled, Carlo Zinelli, July 30, 1965, gouache on paper

I’ve always liked the American Folk Art Museum, as I’m constantly discovering new things when I go there, and their exhibits often make me look at art in a different way, or get me to look again at art that is not always easy to grasp.  They’ve just installed a new exhibit focusing on two self-taught artists who are not that well-known here: Carlo Zinelli and Eugen Garbritschevsky.  While both these artists, who are of similar generations, produced the vast majority of their works while living in psychiatric facilities, and were promoted by Jean Dubuffet, there’s not much else that binds them in either their biographies or their work.  Nonetheless, it’s interesting to see them together.  We’re also lucky to have their paintings – In general hospitals did not keep their patients’ work (especially that done by women).

Carlo Zinelli’s (1916-1974) story is one of loss.  Born in San Giovanni Lupatto, Italy, he was the youngest of 7 children.  His mother died when he was two; at the age of 9, he was sent to live on a farm.  There he not only learned to care for the animals, but also to dance and sing with his fellow workers.  This love of rhythm, repetition and movement stayed with him, and permeates his art, as do images of dogs, birds, goats, cows and other farm animals.  At 18, Zinelli was drafted into the military, serving as a member of the Alpini.  He later was a stretcher-bearer in the Spanish Civil War; after two months, he returned to Italy, shell-shocked.  At the age of 31, he was committed to the San Giacomo psychiatric hospital in Verona, where he participated in an art workshop funded by Scottish sculptor Michael Noble.  It’s clear that Zinelli’s life influenced his work, and you’ll find yourself reflecting on his biography as you go through the show.

The exhibit is divided into four parts, which roughly correspond to the changes in Zinelli’s style. He used the materials the hospital supplied, which is why he worked almost exclusively in gouache on paper, and his works are all of “standard” paper sizes.   In all of his phases, Zinelli used strong colors, block figures, animals, and sweeping sense of movement underlies it all.   His pictures are untitled.  Many of them are double sided, and are hung from the ceiling so that you can see both sides!

Untitled, Carlo Zinelli, 1957 gouache on cardboard

Phase 1 (1957-60) for me has a very naif feeling, with its use of bright reds, pinks, yellow and greens, and the way the people, dogs, trees and buildings are all jumbled together.  Here we get a glimpse of motifs that recur throughout Zinelli’s oeuvre:  lots of animals – especially birds and dogs – as well as people – all facing the same way. Sometimes a hand or a bird will dominate the center of the painting.   

Untitled, Carlo Zinelli, no date, gouache on paper

There’s also a strong rhythmic movement, not surprising given that he liked to dance. The “little priest” figures are also introduced, and they will become increasingly prominent in his work.

Untitled, Carlo Zinelli, 1963, gouache on paper

In Phase Two (1960-65) Zinelli starts to paint his backgrounds.  The images get bigger and thicker, and while some of the colors are a bit murkier, the reds become really bright.  This is also the phase where he places people, animals and objects in group of 4 (his “quaternity.”)    You’ll also notice that many of the people, animals and objects now have perforations in their bodies.  However, you can see the background of the painting through these holes.  The imagery is often evocative of war:  boats, wheeled transportation and planes start to appear, as do people with crosses.  Birds also feature prominently in this phase (the above picture made me think of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film, The Birds)

Untitled, Carlo Zinelli, 1962 collage, gouache on paper

You’ll also find this example of the collage work Zinelli did briefly around 1962 (a heavy smoker, those are the bottoms of cigarette packages he’s attached to the painting), that still has the groupings of 4, the wheeled transport, and everyone facing left (although I’m not sure about that smudgy figure in the lower left). 

Untitled, Carlo Zinelli, 7/9/68, gouache on paper, (Side 1 of 2)

The work in Phase 3 (1965-67) is primarily black and white, with occasional flashes of color, especially red.   During this period Zinelli incorporates words, letters and numbers into his work, more as graphic elements, since they seemingly have no meaning or coherence, and they make you wonder what he was trying to communicate.

Untitled, Carlo Zinelli, September 13, 1968, gouache on paper

The figures are larger, often a man wearing an Alpini helmet (self portrait?) or a man with wings, their bodies often perforated with holes, crosses and now four-pointed stars.  

In this part of the exhibit you can listen to a recording made by Zinelli while reading the English translation on a video monitor, which gives you a fuller feeling for his inability to process language using standard grammar and vocabulary.

Untitled, Carlo Zinelli, 9/28/1972, gouache and colored pencil on paper (side 1 of 2)

Phase 4 (1968-1974) begins the year the hospital moved from Verona, which had a marked effect on Zinelli’s style.  In many ways his output is now very close to his early work, in that there are smaller images with repeated elements, all on the paper in a chaotic fashion.  Some of the images of men and women are combined into one being, and sometimes the people and animals will have other beings inside them.  In this phase Zinelli does more sketching with colored pencils.

Untitled, Carlo Zinelli, December 16, 1972, ink and gouache on paper

He still uses writing as a graphic element, but now it is reduced to almost dots. 

In addition to Zinelli’s art, you’ll also find photos taken by the photojournalist John Philips (Life magazine) in 1959 at the hospital in Verona where Zinelli was confined.  Phillips was given free rein, and shot the patients as they went about their everyday lives.  There are also a number of photographs he took of the patients who participated in the art studio. Philips respected the dignity of his subjects; far from being voyeuristic, his photos rather give us a deeper understanding of the environment in which Zinelli produced his art.

Eugen Gabritschevsky’s life took a different trajectory. Hailing from a very wealthy family in Moscow, as a child he exhibited a precocious interest in insects and mutations, as well as a love of drawing. After his studies at the University of Moscow, in 1925 Gabritschevsky continued his research at Columbia University, focusing on color changes and the transformation of forms in insects. He then moved to Paris, where his career flourished.  However, he had a mental breakdown in 1931 and was admitted to Eglfing-Haar Psychiatric facility in Germany, where he remained for five decades, during which he created over 3,000 gouaches, drawings and watercolors on paper, x-rays, administrative papers – anything he could find.  In addition to painting with brushes, he also employed sponges, as well as scratching and rubbing techniques, and worked with folded paper.

Untitled (Annotation on back: Columbia University Laboratory, N. Y./Dr. T. H. Morgan & D. C. Bridges, December 4, 1926, N. Y. C.) New York City 1927 Charcoal on paper 16 9/16 x 23 3/4″ Private collection, New York Photo by Adam Reich © American Folk Art Museum © Estate of Eugen Gabritschevsky EG_3_NYF

Gabritschevky’s early work is easy to appreciate, and the show has some fine examples of charcoals he created in the late 1920’s, like the one above.  The pictures from that era have a strong architectural component, which carries on through much of his later work.

Untitled, Eugen Gabritschevsky, ca 1938-39, pencil and watercolor on paper

Even though his interest was primarily directed to insects, it’s clear from this piece that Gabritschevsky had keen observational powers when it came to other species, capturing their personalities.

Untitled, Eugen Grabitschevsky, 1936, gouache and pencil on paper

There’s also a certain whimsy in his work, and the feeling that he’s letting you in on a secret.

Gabritschevsky’s art goes in many directions – he was always experimenting, so it’s hard to pin him down stylistically. 

Untitled, Eugen Gabritschevsky, no date, gouache on tracing paper

Against one wall is a lovely series of birds which he created using gouache on tracing paper.

Untitled, Eugen Gabritschevsky, 1957, gouache and watercolor on paper

The scientific and fantastic often combine, as in this evolution of microorganisms depicted like men.

Untitled, Eugen Gabritschevsky, ca 1947-48, gouache on paper

I confess I struggled with Gabritschevsky’s later work, especially paintings with spectral figures who seemed to resemble some cellular disorder.  But he often takes pains to stage them, sometimes in dreamlike opera settings, like the one above. 

Untitled (Dream NII-Glass Floor), November 1945, Gouache on paper

I like his use of color, and his sense of composition. You often have the feeling that you’re looking at organisms as they swirl under a microscope or in a petri dish, in their own private  carnival.  Sometimes you have the sensation of chaos trying to cohere into some kind of order…

detail, Untitled (The Last Judgement #84), Eugen Gabritschevsky, no date, gouache on paper, mounted on cardboard

It seems as if Gabritschevsky’s scientific training influenced everything he did – the above painting seems to be looking at the judgement day on a cellular level…

I found that I needed to spend a fair amount of time with both these artists, as it wasn’t immediately clear to me what they’re trying to say.  So I took a tour with Valery Rousseau, the show’s curator, which I found very helpful in understanding the work of these two artists.  I can also recommend taking a  free drop-in tours led by museum guides, which are held on Thursdays, from 1:00 to 2:00.  There’s  also one on Saturday, April 29th

On April 25th, the Museum will be hosting Dialogue + Studio: Science Illustration, a workshop led by professional illustrator Patricia Wynne, in which participants will learn the fundamentals of science illustration and how to draw from bones.

The American Folk Art Museum is located at 66th Street and Columbus Avenue.  I recommend you see the show before it closes on August 20th.  In addition to great exhibits, the Museum is free!

Austrian Cultural Forum Celebrates 15 Years in NYC!

Austrian Cultural Forum on 52nd Street. Photo by David Plakke davidplakke.com. Courtesy of Austrian Cultural Forum New York

Talk about time flying!  I used to work at 52nd Street and Madison Avenue in the late 90’s, and I remember when the site of the Austrian Cultural Forum was an empty lot.  The building (only 25 feet wide) is a testament to the ingenuity of Austrian architect Raimund Abraham, as well as to the creativity of the staff who program its space.  The ACF is celebrating its15th Anniversary with a special sound exhibit Homages, featuring 15 newly composed or arranged recorded pieces by contemporary Austrian musicians, each paying tribute to one particular pivotal artist whose work was influenced by New York. The 15 commissions (each 3 to 5 minutes) are spread throughout the public spaces of the building, embedded in LED light boxes.  You’re given headphones and an audio device – as you get near each light box, the music begins. Many pieces are experimental and almost all have some electronic music component. I especially liked the homages to Charlie Mingus (Peter Herbert),  Philip Glass (Patrick Pulsinger) and John Zorn (Max Nagl).  On opening night, there was also a fabulous performance by the Talea Ensemble of works by Steve Reich, John Zorn and Olga Neuwirth.   Homages is running only through Monday, April 24th.

The Austrian Cultural Forum has a robust program of performances, exhibitions and lectures throughout the year.  Take a look at their calendar – they host over 100 free events a year.  The ACF also has a library of more than 11,000 volumes of contemporary Austrian literary, artistic, historical, and political works.

Congratulations to Christine Moser and her staff for a great celebration!  And to everyone who made these 15 years happen!

Reconstruct: Artists React to the Changing Fabric of the City

Highest and Best Use (111 Lawrence Street), Lawrence Mesich, archival inkjet print on polypropylene film

The Salena Gallery at Long Island University (LIU)   in Downtown Brooklyn is hosting an exhibit that speaks to the rapid changes to the urban fabric, with its location at the epicenter of  urban transformation making it particularly pertinent. I live close by, and I am constantly astounded at the rapidity with which new buildings, both commercial and residential, are puncturing the skyline.   These are not your row houses or low rise buildings of yore, but rather glass and steel behemoths designed to house hundreds of residents and workers.  Needless to say, these developments have not been without controversy, especially as regards the lack of concomitant development of the area’s infrastructure. The exhibit, curated by Michal Gavish and Etty Yaniv, showcases the work of nine artists.  Here are my highlights.

Lawrence Mesich’s work is perhaps the most direct response to the changes in Downtown Brooklyn, as it expressly examines the 2004 rezoning of downtown Brooklyn.  In this exhibit are his 12-foot long digitally manipulated photographs of facades of some of the newest and tallest residential towers that have been erected in the borough. Their size, and the way they overflow onto the floor conveys the dislocation and disorientation that accompanies these new buildings. It’s title, Highest and Best Use calls into question the validity of that term as justification for much of the new residential development that is going on.  “Highest and best use” is a real estate valuation term to designate the use of a property that is physically, legally and financially feasible, and will also produce the highest profit.  Very often residential wins out over commercial, even though commercial use, such as office space, might make more sense in a given location.

Pennsylvania Avenue, Michal Gavish, archival ink and paint on layered paper and fabric

Michal Gavish has taken three panels of synthetic silk onto which she’s printed photographs of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., where she lived for several years. The middle panel depicts buildings on the south east side of the avenue; on the other panels you’ll find the government buildings that populate the north west side, such as the FBI, the Department of Justice, the White House, etc. There’s also the occasional building that the artist has hand-painted. 

Buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue (SE), Michal Gavish, photos and watercolor on synthetic silk

The arrangement of her  photos, some of which are washed over in watercolor, reflect the crystalline geometries she studied in her previous career as a scientist – Michal has a PhD in Physical Polymer Chemistry – from our own CUNY!

from the Supernova Series, Simona Prives, screenprint, monotype and archival inkjet collage with ink, graphite and xerox transfer

Simona PrivesSupernova series of fantastical landscapes are full of ambiguity – it’s not clear where the boundary is between what’s natural and what’s imaginary. The finely-rendered intricate images in her densely layered prints – which combine drawing, etching, monotype, photo transfer, digital and physical collage – have a strong sense of movement underneath them, and you’ll find something new every time you look. 

Simona Previs, still from Death of a Sun, digital video

I enjoyed her short video, Death of a Sun, that brings together all her techniques, as well as sound by Ross Williams, to create what seems to be a narrative on the continuum of destruction and rebirth. 

Brett Wallace explores the intersection of art, technology and commerce.  Last September, he started Amazing, a start-up in the form of art, that’s now a production company.  He explores the questions of how an artist reconciles labor, surveillance and technology, and the role of labor in the digital age. 

BS-i2-1.0_2016, Brett Wallace, Mixed media (hat, t-shirt, acrylic, steel hardware, wood, inkjet prints)

The background of this assemblage mimics the step and repeat logos that corporations often use.  In the plastic boxes are a real hat and tee-shirt worn by workers in a fulfillment center.

Drone Delivery 3, Brett Wallace, inkjet archival print on dibond

This photo is taken in front of a gallery to which he was shipping art in laser cut boxes with different phrases – the first time a drone was used to deliver art!

Elizabeth Riley with City Remix installation. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Elizabeth Riley‘s City Remix is the result of a multi-step video-digital process.  She used her video “Dragons of Iceland,” to create a new video of a growing city.  She then selected stills from that second video, manipulating and ink-jet printing them onto fabric, plastic and paper which she’s draped over installation racks, so that by moving the racks, you can change what the “city” looks like.   

detail from City Remix, Elizabeth Riley, digital film images on paper, cloth and clear plastic

It’s fun to get up close to the racks, to see how the colors and patterns look close up, and how the background material affects the way they look. I really like her use of color.

There’s more to see in this show, which is up only until April 26th.  So find your way over to the Salena Gallery at Long Island University in downtown Brooklyn, and see this show before it closes. 

Step Right Up: The Sideshow as the Main Event

Models (Poseuses), Georges Seurat, 1887-88, oil on canvas

The Metropolitan Museum of Art   has a wonderful new exhibit of works by one of my favorite artists: Georges Seurat.  Centered on his masterpiece, Circus Sideshow (Parade de cirque),  it features more than 100 paintings, drawings, posters and prints by artists from the late 19th and early 20th centuries on this theme.

Seurat, who lived only to age 31, is probably best known as the inventor of pointillism, but he left a body of work that continues to inspire, and not only in the visual arts – think Stephen Sondheim’s musical, Sunday in the Park with George.  Seurat’s outdoor subjects were painted in daylight; Circus Sideshow is his only painting of the outdoors under artificial illumination, in this case, gas light, which allowed Parisians to more safely enjoy evening entertainments such as café concerts, opera, dining out, and the evening stroll.  Circuses and traveling fairs, popular forms of urban entertainment, were the subject of many illustrations and art works in the 19th century.  The sideshow was especially important, as this free performance lured in paying customers to the larger spectacle – making it akin to the modern day movie trailer.

Circus Sideshow (Parade de cirque), Georges Seurat, 1887-88

In the center of the exhibit is Circus Sideshow, depicting the fairground scene of the Corvi Circus troupe at the Gingerbread Fair in Paris.  The painting’s pale purplish hues convey that in-between feeling of dusk, and its formalized, geometric composition provides a certain gravity to what was assuredly a raucous affair. As a viewer, you feel like you’re at the back of the crowd, watching as the spectators line up to buy tickets while five musicians, a clown and the ringmaster entertain them, illuminated by twinkling gaslights across the top of the painting. The hats of the crowd provide a rhythmic touch, while also clearly showing how the circus cut across class lines (even if they sit on separate sides of the show).  Exhibited in the Salon des Indépendants in Paris in 1888, Circus Sideshow has bedazzled and bewildered viewers ever since.

The exhibit also includes 17 related conté crayon drawings by Seurat, including preparatory studies and some of the café-concert sketches of the music halls in Montmartre that were exhibited alongside the painting in 1888.

At the Divan Japonais, Georges Seurat, cas 1887-88, conte crayon on paper

Despite the strong diagonal of the dancer’s leg that mimics the neck of the double bass, this drawing nonetheless remains balanced.

The Saltimbanques, Georges Seurat, ca. 1886, conte crayon on paper

The head in the front below a line of standing figures is an element that Seurat used again in his painting.

Alto ophicleide in E-flat, nine keys, Charles Joseph Sax, ca 1845

You’ll also find two cases of brass and woodwind period instruments, that would have been used in Seurat’s painting, including this ophicleide in E-flat with 9 keys, a low brass instrument that was a predecessor of the tuba.  This instrument was made by Charles Sax, father of Adolphe Sax, who invented the saxophone.

La Parade (The Sideshow), Honoré Dauier, ca 1865, charcoal, pen & ink, gray wash, watercolor, gouache, and conte crayon on paper

 Works by other artists of the era abound in this show, as the circus was a popular theme.  This work by Henri Daumier illustrates some of the crueler aspects of the circus – what became known as the freak show – when people with bodies outside the mainstream were routinely put on display as objects of curiosity (and a certain amount of derision). 

Place de Clichy, Paul Signac, 1887, oil on wood

Paul Signac, another pointilist of the era, offers us this bright rendering of a traveling fair near his studio by the Place de Clichy, caught in the calm of mid-day, before the evening excitement begins.

Fair at the Tuileries: F. Corvi’s Minature Theatre-Circus, Affiches Américaines, ca 1882-88, color lithograph

While the sideshow was an important draw for the circus, posters were widely used to attract crowds.  This one for Corvi’s Miniature Theatre-Circus, promises amazing feats by goats, horses, mules, apes and dogs.  Notice the similarity in Corvi’s tailcoat, and the one worn by the ringmaster in Seurat’s painting.

detail of Grimaces and Misery-The Saltimbanques, Fernand Pelez, oil on canvas, 1888

Occupying its own wall is Grimaces and Misery – The Saltimbanques by Fernand Pelez, that was shown at the official Salon of 1888, right before the closing of the Salon des Indépenents, where Seurat showed.  Twenty feet wide, this painting’s life-size depiction of sideshow performers (saltimbanques) are arranged in a tripartite structure, starting from the left, with four young performers, who already look like they know how bleak their futures will be; the middle panel with the quizzical dwarf and two clowns; and the final panel of three aged, exhausted  musicians.  While not everyone liked this realistic portrayal of circus performers, Pelez’s painting received the Silver Medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1889.  Although different in style, compositionally this painting and Seurat’s have much in common.

Ladies and Gentlemen:  There is much, much more to see: paintings, lithographs, drawings and ephemera!

Works by Hayet, Bonnard, Pissarro, and even a Picasso!

So step right up to the Met and see Seurat’s Circus Sideshow  before it closes on May 29th.