Old Bronx Borough Courthouse Is ‘No Longer Empty’

April 27, 2015 | Scott Lynch

Paco Cao
Paco Cao
For more than five years now, the non-profit No Longer Empty team has been taking over some of the city’s grand old abandoned buildings and, without much cleanup or fussiness (you usually have to sign a waiver to get in), transforming them into giant art installations. They use or commission pieces that play off the history of the place or the neighborhood in which it resides.

The results are always interesting and admirable (they do lots of community outreach and school tours and such) and usually pretty cool for the casual art viewer. Their newest exhibition, held within the imposing Old Bronx Borough Courthouse in Melrose, is no exception. This massive Beaux-Arts building, once the imposing home to the Supreme Court, had been shuttered for nearly 40 years until No Longer Empty arrived, and makes for a dramatic setting for an art show.

The exhibition is called “When You Cut Into the Present the Future Leaks Out” and features works from more than 25 artists spread out over three floors. As you would expect from such a set up, your personal level engagement with the art will vary from room to room, but highlights for me included Teresa Diehl’s maze of light and sound L-Alber-Into; the mouse-trap chandelier by Shellyne Rodriguez; David Scanavino’s surprising brightly-colored tile installation; and Abigail Deville’s slightly unhinged sculptural piece in the basement, …and justice for all?, which is composed of “on site construction debris, broken marble, branches, reclaimed wood, dead Christmas trees, accumulated debris, heirlooms, TVs, computer monitors, phones, oven.”

Much of the fun here, of course, also lies in just being able to wander around the rubble of this nearly-ruined old building, as well as the high serendipity factor, because you never know what to expect around each corner.

No Longer Empty: When You Cut Into the Present the Future Out,” No Longer Empty, April 23 – July 19, Old Bronx Borough Courthouse, Bronx