This Snap Button Store on Mott Street Doubles as an ‘Alternative’ Art Space

Posted on: June 5th, 2014 at 6:03 am by

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Things aren’t what they seem

166 Mott Street in Chinatown carefully threads the generational needle, so to speak, with a pair of symbiotic businesses in the ground level. Yes. The storefront currently doubles as both a button workshop from yesteryear, and its descendent function as an alternative art space.

He Zhen Snap Button Company first put down roots on Elizabeth Street in 1986. The business operated in an area rife with sweatshops, and was the only game in town with the equipment to apply snap buttons to textiles. He Zhen would move to 166 Mott Street five years later where it still resides.

Albeit with a twist.

Amy Li, whose father runs He Zhen, co-habits the ground level for her eponymous gallery endeavor. The idea germinated during Li’s quest to find an affordable showroom space in the neighborhood. She came up empty-handed so returned to 166 Mott. The first show was supposed to be a one-off featuring Aldfredo Martinez. It was so successful, however, that she convinced her dad to let the showroom stay.

The current exhibit is a summer-long collaboration with 90s internet mogul Josh Harris, “A Quiet Summer.” First of the artist participants is photographer Donna Ferrato, who will be showing her images from until June 18. Opening party is tonight.

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