"We want to sell art that costs no more than a good dinner for two, that people can carry home in a shopping bag," says Carita Crawford, cofounder of the 5 & Dime Store, the latest in the art gallery spinoffs hereabouts. "That's why we called our first show 'Cash 'n' Carry.' "
Standing behind the counter of Todd's Copycenter in Little Italy (238 Mott St.) as local artists run off color-Xerox artworks and black-and-white Xerox art books, Crawford presents her wares.
A tiny windup music box springs to life, and suddenly Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns" fills the room. Inside the box a small clown with Reagan's face hops and sways to the music. A starving child and nuclear warheads decorate the back of the box. Cost? $100.
"Here's a present for Rep. Geraldine Ferraro," says Crawford, opening a jewelry box with the candidate's name inscribed on the marbleized lid. Inside is a key, a rhinestone heart pin and a comb and mirror. Price? $35.
A tiny glove packaged inside a clear plastic bubble costs $50. "Dehydrated Glove," reads the label. "Once you've tried the packaging, you'll never go back to art."
Postcards by Fluxus group members (for as little as $1.25), boxes, books and a fold-out collage titled "Psychological Disadvantages of Being a Woman" fill the walls around the whirring copy machines. Stamp art by West Coast artists featured this month: Sas Colby, Dogfish, Gavin Flint, Susan Mogul. Next month: mechanical art.
"We are not an art gallery," insists Crawford, "we are an art store. Galleries make us anxious."