Paul Kasmin Gallery & Michael Shvo private dinner to clebrate Francois-Xavier Lalanne, Sheep Station.
 Photograph by Neil Rasmus/

NEW YORK - Reader, I’m as lazy as everyone else. I’m more likely to go to an art world opening if it’s close to my house, and you can’t get much closer than the old Getty gas station at 24th Street and 10th Avenue in Chelsea. It’s a half block away, and I used to fuel my car there all the time.

A few weeks ago that site was covered with hillocks of bright green sod (up to and around the old gas pumps) and 25 life-size sculptures of sheep, and from 6 to 8 PM women in heels stumbled a bit as they navigated the terrain with drinks in hand. The party was for the opening of The Sheep Station, featuring the epoxy stone and bronze “Moutons” of Francois-Xavier Lalanne. It’s the first of a series of installations on the site that has been dubbed Getty Station.

The backstory is this: Recently the site was bought by real estate developer Michael Shvo, who is building an über-deluxe residential building there next year. Shvo is also a serious art collector, as he proved when he gave me a tour of his apartment in the Time Warner Center over the summer. His apartment is chock-a-block with pieces by Andy Warhol, and the 250-work collection includes Tom Sachs, Frank Stella and many other big names.

His idea is to do a series of outdoor installations at Getty Station when the construction schedule permits. Shvo has a penchant for the French duo Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne (the latter passed away last year), so he teamed up with Les Lalanne’s dealer, Paul Kasmin Gallery, for the installation and the party.

Claude Lallane at the opening of Sheep Station.
 Photograph by Neil Rasmus/

Shvo owns a winery in his native Israel, so he served those wines among other drinks at the bar, located inside the old station. Perhaps the best feature of the party was that, in addition to fancy hot dogs and hamburgers being passed around courtesy of acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud, you could go inside and grab a bag of Sun Chips or pretzels, presumably leftover snack inventory from the gas station.

There is something completely right about giving Les Lalanne that corner of my neighborhood’s faux-bucolic landscaping. Located just under the High Line, that pioneering slice of urban nature, Sheep Station is giving tourists and art lovers a scenic little surprise as they make the Chelsea rounds.

Les Lalanne: The Poetry of Sculpture, a selling exhibition at Sotheby's New York's S|2 gallery, will open 31 October.

Read more about Les Lalanne: The Poetry of Sculpture