Art in Tribeca: Warren King at Pearl River Mart

Tribecan Warren King, whose cardboard villager sculpture was left guerilla-style in Tribeca Park back in April, has a show up now at Pearl River Mart in the back gallery titled “Our Roots Run Deep.” If you missed his piece in the park, it is totally worth walking over to see the sculptures in person. (It’s up through April 23.)

King assembles everything out of cardboard, and in this case, the subject is the men and women of Chinatown. The figures are not exact portraits, but they are based on people he sees regularly on the streets: the fruit seller on Elizabeth, the fish monger on Mott, the vegetable seller on the corner of Hester, who peels and trims there on the sidewalk with his wife. The checkers players are in Columbus Park. The card players usually perch on rocks in the park in good weather.

The work is for sale, but his goal is to raise money for Chinatown through the organization Think!Chinatown. If anyone inquires about a piece (he expects they will be priced between $8000 and $12,000), he would ask the buyer to donate directly, and then he would give the art for free. That way the buyer gets the tax benefit and perhaps gets to know the organization a bit better.

“I like the feeling that I am connecting them and maybe that will start a longer-term relationship,” King said. (He did this once before in Milwaukee, his hometown, with the get-out-the-vote organization Bloc.)

King, a structural engineer turned tech consultant turned artist only recently (read his story here) builds his figures in a studio in his Tribeca loft. When the family moved here in 2020, the proximity to Chinatown was an added perk — especially since he had just started to rediscover his Chinese roots. (“We knew the benefits of living in this area, but being new to New York we didn’t know the depth of it and then we said oh wow, we are so lucky to have landed here.”)

He generally bases his work on photos, but in the case of the card players, he had to do it from memory. “They don’t want people taking pictures,” he said. “I don’t know what they’re playing but there’s big money going around — the lowest unit is $20.”

And as a bonus, the cat. “I did him for fun at the last minute.”

Pearl River Mart
452 Broadway | Howard & Grand
Through April 23



  1. This is a wonderful story, and and wonderful exhibit. Thank you.

  2. These works are fantastic. I saw the one in the park that time and was so impressed and intrigued.