Photography by Trevor Smith

Chrissy Crawford
Founder, ArtStar | Gramercy

Above a smattering of timeworn Chinese restaurants and clandestine dive bars rests a technicolor wonderland of tongue-in-cheek humor and cool curiosities. In fact, filled with inspiring works, a small team and the pluck to dream, it’s the kind of space that reminds you just why people move to New York City in the first place. Yes, this is the Lower East Side headquarters of ArtStar, the online contemporary art gallery envisioned by Chrissy Crawford. Formerly an employee of the Aspen Ski Co. Race department (she assisted in setting up its races and courses), Crawford was holding out for a job at the Aspen Art Museum— a long-awaited gig that would eventually snowball into a Masters in International Art Business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, and later, a rep as an independent curator. It didn’t take long either before Crawford uncovered where she could make her mark: the art world’s gap between low-end wall fillers and fine limited editions was blatant, albeit nonsensical to her. She came up with a plan to render contemporary art accessible and ArtStar was born.  Almost seven years old, the e-gallery works with contemporary artists to create editions at a fraction of the price— think prints by legendary photographers like Terry O’Neill as well as notable newcomers like Ludwig Favre— all of which ArtStar will mat, frame and deliver directly to your door. So, go ahead and take that tired Paris cityscape off your wall— thanks to Crawford, the (art) world’s your oyster… Here, she sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: For lunch, I love the steak salad at Café Habana in Nolita (MAP IT, x); they deliver to my office and address me as, “honey” whenever I call. For dinner, I love to order out from Giorgio’s of Gramercy (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). It’s a bit indulgent, but they make such good food.

COFFEE OR TEA: Coffee from Gasoline Alley (MAP IT, x)— their iced latte is out of this world. There is always a line, but it’s worth it. Also, coffee from La Colombe (MAP IT, x) is outstanding!

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Edi and the Wolf in the East Village (MAP IT, BOOK ITx); I love the braised short ribs and their white asparagus (when in season). Edi is the chef for the Austrian Embassy and has the best Austrian food in New York, plus the space has a cool ambience. In the L.E.S., Le Turtle (MAP IT, BOOK ITx) is a chic option. If I’m uptown, East Pole (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is always nice.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: A Grey Hound (grapefruit juice and vodka)… I’m not very exotic. My favorite bar is Omar’s (MAP IT, x)— it’s dark and cozy with an older scene and the bartenders are wonderful.

LADIES LUNCH: Blue Ribbon Sushi in SoHo (MAP IT, x) or, in warmer weather, the outside garden at the Standard East (MAP IT, x).

AFTER-WORK HAPPY HOUR: The ArtStar office is by Ludlow House (MAP IT, x) so I like to have after-work drinks at their rooftop bar. It’s so well designed and I usually bump into friends and other people in the art world. It’s also casual which is nice… no heels required!

MUSIC PICK: Pier 25 (MAP IT, x) is an outdoor music venue where you can see big concerts and walk to great bars and restaurants. I once saw Empire of the Sun perform there, then walked to meet friends out for dinner afterwards.

BEST BRUNCH: Red Egg in Chinatown/Little Italy (MAP IT, BOOK ITx) for dim sum; Café Gitane in Nolita (MAP IT, x) for coffee and eggs.

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: Cafe Nectar on Madison Avenue (MAP IT, x)– it’s a “greasy spoon diner” where you can sit outside during the day and see everyone from Tom Wolfe to Larry Gagosian walk by on the weekends.

HEALTHY STAPLE: The Butcher’s Daughter (MAP IT, x) at The Bowery Market (MAP IT, x) for a fresh salad and green juice.

GUILTY PLEASURE: The same place as above, but I order a gluten-free doughnut and iced latte instead.

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: The bar at the National Arts Club (MAP IT, x). It’s beautiful with an eccentric crowd. I also love Lucien (MAP IT, x) for great steak and a glass of red wine.


REGULAR AT: I get my hair color done at Brush (MAP IT, x) with Michelle (x); I love Modo Yoga in the West Village (MAP IT, x); and I can spend hours looking at art books in the Rizzoli shop in the Flatiron (MAP IT, x). I love eating at Egg Shop (MAP IT, x) on the weekends, then shopping on Elizabeth Street in Nolita (the Clare V. store (MAP IT, x) there is adorable and has a curated selection of other products to compliment her handbags). I also spend a lot of time going to galleries in Chelsea; I’ll eat at Cookshop (MAP IT, BOOK ITx), Chop-Shop (MAP IT, BOOK ITx) or Bottino (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) when I need to refuel, and the rooftop of Hotel Americano (MAP ITx) is great for a break and a drink in the summertime (it’s right across from the Paul Kasmin Gallery (MAP IT, x)).

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: I have a date night once a week with my husband at Giorgio’s. We love their bartender, Brian, and have been going there for years.

DELIVERY GO-TO: I order in sushi from Yama (MAP IT, x).

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: Dancing at Boom Boom Room (MAP IT, x); relaxing in the garden at The Standard East; eating dinner at Pietro Nolita (MAP IT, x) or Le Turtle.

TO ESCAPE AND UNWIND: During the winter, I love enjoying a steak and martini from Raoul’s (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x)— it’s cozy and old-school. Pizza Beach (MAP IT, x) is fun and easy for dinner with friends too.

ARTISTS TO WATCH: Holton RowerAlex Prager, Ivan Navarro, Andrea Mary Marshall, Kadar Brock and Kim Keever.

Everyone needs at least a photograph when it comes to building a personal art collection. You can collect some of the top photography on the market for a fraction of what it costs to purchase a painting by a collectable artist.

TO BUILD A PERSONAL COLLECTION: ArtStar (x). But, I love the younger galleries like The Hole (MAP IT, x) and Danziger (MAP IT, x)– they have great artists and both spots go all out for their shows.

FOR ART STEALS: ArtStar and LittleCollector (x). We work with very established artists like Mickalene Thomas and Kenny Scharf to create editions at a fraction of their gallery prices. Also, you can get great deals at charity auctions and they’re tax deductible.

GO-TO GETAWAY: Cartagena, Colombia. My husband is Colombian so we have a place in Cartagena. The water, history, food and shopping are totally unique and amazing. It’s my escape and, thankfully, JetBlue has a direct flight from JFK.

CLOSET STAPLE: I am very casual; I like to wear flats or sneaks and jeans. I like good basics, but I buy special pieces from Fivestory (MAP IT, x). Claire [Distenfeld] has an amazing eye and she curates things you will not find anywhere else.

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: I love giving art books, especially if there is a personal tie-in to the hostess, and MoMA (MAP IT, x) has the best bookstore for gifts.

BEAUTY BLACK BOOK: Michelle at Brush does my color. Cristina Boatman (x) at Takamichi Hair (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) does my cuts. I love getting facials at Skintology in Chelsea (MAP IT, x) and manicures at Blooming Nails on 21st Street and Park Avenue S. (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). I am fussy about my eyebrows so I go to Spruce and Bond (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) because they can shape a thick brow and they pluck rather than wax!

FIT PICK: Modo Yoga is one of the best classes I’ve had in New York. I like Barry’s Bootcamp in Chelsea (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) when I need to get motivated again (though I don’t think it’s great for you on the long term). I typically run on the Westside Highway when the weather is nice and I’ll do sets of squats, sit-ups and light weights in my gym from time to time.

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: Oh man, so many! That we have Uber for helicopters is something hard for my family in Tennessee to grasp. Seeing celebrities on a daily basis is another one (I swear I see Alec Baldwin weekly— that dude is everywhere!). Also, I love that New Yorkers have their own style: it’s a mix of functional street style with a chic, but casual edge— think sneakers and cool workout pants by Terez mixed with a Balmain jacket… it would look weird anywhere else, but here, it works perfectly. CP

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