When Kathryn and Dino Cusumano took on the gut renovation of a New York brownstone, they knew it would be a big project. Selecting the paint and finding the right painters is always important when creating a home — the couple went one step further and commissioned an artist to record the process.
Gwyneth Leech took on a commission to create paintings as the work progressed at the historic building on W51st between 9/10th Avenue.
“Kathryn found my New York City construction site artwork on Instagram. She reached out to me and we were pleased to discover that we live just five blocks from each other in Hell’s Kitchen. She invited me to consider painting her brownstone project,” said Gwyneth. “I visited and found it in a raw state much to my taste, in keeping with my paintings of skeletal building projects around Midtown Manhattan. I was very taken with the light filtering in through temporary plywood walls and falling from bare work light bulbs on the reflective surfaces of metal supports in the unfinished spaces. I sketched extensively over a number of site visits.”
They agreed that Gwyneth would create six interior compositions. “I painted at a travel easel over the course of several months, moving frequently to keep out of the way of the construction crew. I made final adjustments to the group of paintings at a later date in my painting studio on W39th Street and delivered the completed paintings to the owners,” added Gwyneth. All paintings are 8” x 8” created with oil on wood panel.
The images chronicle the early stages of renovation, which has been ongoing for seven years and is expected to reach completion later this year.
Kathryn is delighted with the results. “We are very grateful that Gwyneth created these unique and engaging paintings of our home, that we will enjoy for years to come. I’m continually inspired by her talent, and love that she’s rooted in our beloved neighborhood'” she said.
“I never get tired of looking at her paintings. They seem to evolve or deepen somehow, every time I look at them, it’s like seeing them anew. Once we move in, I’m sure the memories of rage and frustration from this renovation ordeal will fade. Eventually.”
Her current painting exhibition, “One Vanderbilt Rising”, documenting the rise of the supertall tower next to Grand Central Station, is online through March 30 at www.gwynethleech.com/one-vanderbilt-rising/exhibition