Embracing Life’s Canvas: Smetky’s “All in a New York Minute”

Written by Sage Helene

Art by Smetsky
Smetsky Showcasing one of the Sculputal pieces at 'All in a NY Minute'
Smetsky Showcasing one of the Sculputal pieces at ‘All in a NY Minute’

All in a New York Minute,’ an immersive art exhibition crafted by the visionary artist known as Smetsky, transcends the boundaries of traditional galleries. It stands as a monument to the transformative power of art and the indomitable spirit of New York City. From its inception, “All in a New York Minute” was conceived as more than just an exhibition. It was a labor of love, a culmination of years of dedication, and a celebration of life itself. Smetsky’s journey, like many who have been drawn to the magnetic energy of New York, is one of reinvention and self-discovery.

Immigrating to Brooklyn from Russia at the young age of 7, Smetsky always found that he was surrounded by art. With a pianist mother and a well-respected World War II veteran grandfather who worked with museums in Moscow, it is no surprise to discover that Smetsky was an artistic kid as well, always finding new ways to create. However, it was not until high school that Smetsky discovered graffiti.

“That’s what did it,” Smetsky reminisced. “Once that can is in my hands, I lose myself. Some kind of connection that takes me to a different planet.” Graffiti became more than just an art form; it was a conduit for self-expression, a medium through which Smetsky could channel his innermost thoughts and emotions.

“That’s what did it,” Smetsky reminisced. “Once that can is in my hands, I lose myself. Some kind of connection that takes me to a different planet.”

Celebrating his 10 years as an artist, Smetsky wanted to do more than a gallery exhibition, in the traditional sense. Smetsky craved more; he envisioned something bigger, and that is exactly what he set out to accomplish. All in a New York Minute is an expansive exhibit, with the space divided into multiple rooms with murals traversing throughout, combined with pop-up style installations, sculptural works, an inhouse café, and more.

“The largest indoor mural in the world, as of now—well, before your boy—was 9762 square feet,” Smetsky stated, after combining the walls, floors, and ceilings, the estimated square foot for Smekty’s mural is well over 40,000. Utilizing every resource that Smetsky was given, even buying whatever Home Depot was going to trash for the day, Smetsky used everything he was given to his advantage to create All in a New York Minute.

Art by Smetsky
Art by Smetsky

For six months, Smetsky, fellow artist Melody Angeles, and the rest of his crew spent day and night constructing the 12 different rooms, all of which encompassed the playground in Smetsky’s head. “[For each room] I like to go to some depth, a place that gets me into the feels, and then I take that energy and shift it with colors and shapes and keep tweaking, molding, and bending, and then we get to the final piece.” Everything you see in this exhibition was completed by hand and built from scratch, putting nothing but blood, sweat, and tears into this project.

In true New York City ingenuity, Smetsky embraced the DIY method, repurposing discarded materials and finding inspiration in the detritus embedded in urban life. Paint cans and spray bottles that were used to coat the exhibition walls, floors, and ceilings were then transformed into towering sculptures. Nothing that was given was used to waste, instead it was used to the advantage of the artist.

Everything you see in this exhibition was completed by hand and built from scratch, putting nothing but blood, sweat, and tears into this project.

As visitors explore the second floor of All in a New York Minute, they are confronted with Melody Angeles’ thought-provoking creations—a visual symphony of repurposed materials and reimagined possibilities. It’s a reminder that beauty can be found in the unlikeliest of places and that every discarded object holds the potential for reinvention. Melody Angeles, a colleague of Smetsky, brings her background in modeling to the forefront, shedding light on the detrimental environmental effects of the fashion industry. Through her sculptures, in her exhibition entitled “Reimagined: Spheres of Excess” Angeles confronts the relentless cycle of overconsumption and disposable trends, prompting viewers to reconsider their relationship with material goods.

Melody Angeles
Melody Angeles

In the words of Melody herself: “Through my process of using everyday discards and constructing them into art pieces, I hope to spark a conversation about sustainability and responsible production. It’s about reimagining our relationship with the world around us and embracing a more conscious way of living.” From the DIY ethos that permeates the space to the conscious use of recycled materials to raise awareness about environmental issues, every aspect of the exhibition reflects Melody and Smetsky’s ethos of resourcefulness and mindfulness.

In the words of Melody herself: “Through my process of using everyday discards and constructing them into art pieces, I hope to spark a conversation about sustainability and responsible production. It’s about reimagining our relationship with the world around us and embracing a more conscious way of living.”

At the heart of All in a New York Minute lies an intricate narrative of memories, emotions, and experiences woven into every corner. Each room serves as a window into Smetky’s psyche, acting as a reflection of the myriad of influences that have shaped his artistic creation. From the love letter painting on the wall you’ll encounter once you enter the basement level, to the bathroom where his mother once made him swim laps in the tub so he (and she) could get some sleep that night, to the two mannequins standing on top of the building, dressed in the clothes Smetsky wore while painting the space, he pays tribute to his late friend Mike.

As the ignition to Smetsky’s fire, Smetsky quotes Mike as being the reason for who he is today. “At first, I was quite a shy young man. But after hanging out with him [Mike] for about a year, we were train surfing, hanging off 20-story buildings, one hand holding on to the top while the other was graffitiing.” Mike stands as a testament to what it means to live life to the absolute fullest you can, and that has followed Smetsky through his career as an artist.

Art by Smetsky
Art by Smetsky

As visitors weave their way through the towers of skyscrapers in All in a New York Minute, they are invited to reflect on their own voyage, celebrate the beauty of impermanence, and embrace the transformative power of art. For Smetsky, the exhibition is more than just a culmination of his imaginative vision; it is an indication to the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring legacy of New York City.

At its core, All in a New York Minute is a celebration of life’s ephemeral nature. It is a reminder that nothing is permanent, and that change is the only constant. Smetsky depicts this balance in the “The Duality Room.” Smetsky believes that amidst the flux and chaos of existence, there is beauty to be found. If you listen closely, you can hear the harmony that transcends the dichotomy of order and chaos. It is a theme that resonates deeply with Smetsky, who views the world through a lens of duality, the balance between light and dark, joy and sorrow, creation and destruction.

Art by Smetsky
Art by Smetsky – ‘The Duality Room’

The exhibition is a navigation through the labyrinth of Smetsky’s mind, where every room tells a story and every stroke of paint is infused with meaning. For Smetsky, art is not just a vocation; it is a way of life—a gable that he is willing to take, no matter the odds. With unwavering conviction, he urges others to embrace their passions wholeheartedly and to seize each moment with unbridled fervor. “People who are like, ‘I’ll do it next month,’ or ‘I’ve got my five-year plan’ […] I am not saying live so spontaneously, but to feel that you’re owed tomorrow is fucking lunacy.”

“People who are like, ‘I’ll do it next month,’ or ‘I’ve got my five-year plan’ […] I am not saying live so spontaneously, but to feel that you’re owed tomorrow is fucking lunacy.”

His “Eat Life” philosophy is rooted in the belief that life is too precious to be squandered, acting as a mantra that reverberates throughout the exhibition. “You are here for such a small fraction of a time,” Smetsky reflects. “We determine our worth in this life.” In a city that never sleeps, where every moment is an opportunity for reinvention and renewal, Smetsky’s words ring true. “Eat Life” is Smetsky’s philosophy that permeates every aspect of his work and is tagged throughout the exhibition—a reminder to embrace life with gusto and to savor every moment. “I view life as your favorite food. It’s summer, and finally, watermelons are out. You take that fresh, juicy watermelon, you get so excited, you’re salivating, you dive into that slice, you chew it, you swallow it… then all that energy is inside of you. That is how you should be treating life; take a bite out of that motherfucker.”

As visitors depart from All in a New York Minute, some with tears welling in their eyes and others feeling the adrenaline of inspiration coursing through their veins, they carry more than just memories. “If you leave here with something in your heart, that is all I care about,” Smetsky concludes. They are left with a reminder of the beauty that exists in the fleeting moments of life. In the end, it is not about the destination; it is always about the journey you take. The moments of joy, the obstacles you must overcome, and the lives touched along the way. In All in a New York Minute Smetsky invites us to join him as we dive deeper into an artist’s soul, celebrate our infinite possibilities, and leave our mark on this world.

Art by Smetsky
Art by Smetsky

Sage Helene is a writer and artist based in New York City. Having earned her MFA in photography from Rochester Institute of Technology, Helene brings a visual perspective to storytelling. With both her artwork and writing, Helene seeks to provoke thought and inspire dialogue. She currently writes for UP Magazine.

Insta: @sage.helene

email: sage.g.helene@gmail.com