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Everything inside this deli is made out of felt, and it’s all for sale

$20 for an oyster may seem steep—until you consider that artist Lucy Sparrow felted it by hand.

New York is home to a bevy of architectural landmarks—from the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building—but some of the city’s most iconic structures are the ones at eye level. Ubiquitous and utilitarian, the deli is a place for a quick bite, a miscellaneous food item, and, perhaps most importantly, culture. Manhattan’s upscale delicatessens, known for their retro chrome furnishings, Formica countertops, and brightly lit display cabinets, have come to define the city thanks to their late hours and universal appeal.

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[Photo: Heather Cromartie/courtesy of Art Production Fund]
This week, a new kind of classic New York deli opened, though people aren’t heading to it for an edible pastrami on rye.

Delicatessen on 6th, an interactive public art installation by contemporary British artist Lucy Sparrow, is fashioned completely out of felt. Visitors can buy any of the items, which range from tomatoes and croissants to $80 crabs.

Sparrow is known for using the fuzzy material to hand-make soft versions of real-life items, like cheese, chocolates, and seafood. Her last installation in New York, which took place in 2017, was so popular it sold out of the felted items. The retail experience is at Rockefeller Center at the corner of 49th Street and 6th Avenue, and is part of the Art in Focus public art program presented in partnership with the nonprofit Art Production Fund. Sparrow has also been commissioned to design quirky pieces—beyond the confines of the deli—to place around Rockefeller Center, like an aquarium made of felt, Lycra, and sequins.

This hybrid grocery store-restaurant is the sixth iteration of Sparrow’s tactile shops. Her first felt Cornershop installation, which opened in 2014 in London’s East End, defined her craft practice as one concerned with consumerism and consumption. Sparrow’s site-specific food emporium will be in business through October 20, offering hand-stitched pastries and fresh fruit that looks good enough to eat.

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