We always stop by the Gershwin Hotel when we’re in the neighborhood. Besides Birch Coffee, a one-of-a-kind, sustainable-minded coffee shop, and a lively lobby where you can hang out as long as you want, the hotel buzzes with events – art exhibitions, music performances, drama of all kinds.
On a recent evening we strolled into the lobby and found actress Tilda Swindon at her spookiest staring at us on almost every wall. The portraits, accompanied by other unsettling images, including one of a bug-infested
sandwich, hailed from the new, relentlessly downbeat horror movie We Need to Talk About Kevin, which appeared in select coastal theaters for about a minute last year to qualify Swindon’s performance as guilt-stricken mom Eva Khatchadourian for awards season and opened in limited release this weekend.
Part The Bad Seed, part Rosemary’s Baby, the movie is based on Lionel Shriver’s exquisitely chilling, Columbine-tinged novel, which we gobbled up, riveted and horrified at every turn. The movie didn’t reach the same heights; some stories are better left to the printed page – and the imagination.
Yet the large color stills by photographer Nicole Rivelli delivered the essence of the book in a way the film did not. Stark and cool with strategic splashes of red, they distill the mood of the story, calling to mind William Eggleston’s off-kilter suburban scenes and the life-like sculptures of Duane Hanson, who specialized in his own brand of visual horror.
For Gershwin fans, the iconic image is of Swindon in a supermarket against a backdrop of Campbell’s Soup cans. A Plexiglas-enclosed Campbell’s Soup can elevated to art because Andy Warhol signed it occupies a place of honor in the lobby.
Still photos from movies and television shows are a specialty of Rivelli, who lives in Los Angeles and has created stills from 30 Rock, Remember Me, Then She Found Me and My Soul to Take, among others. She also photographs dancers and does portraits. Her Kevin pictures are on view through January 23.
The Gershwin, 7 East 27th Street between Fifth and Madison avenues; 212 545-8000.