Sound artist Maria Chavez's noise-stopping secret? A dreamy Clark Gable wall panel from an old theater

By Adam Lehrer  | April 3, 2014 - 9:59AM

As an artist, curator and DJ, Maria Chavez puts together sound art installations throughout the five boroughs. Chavez started DJ'ing in her teens and has since shared stages with experimental music icons including Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore  and Christian Marclay, creator of the wildly popular 24-hour film work, "The Clock." In 2015, she'll create a new sound piece at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and tour Europe, winding up as the artist in residence at international art center INKONST in Sweden.

The most talked-about piece in Chavez's railroad apartment in Greenpoint is a wall panel that she bought from a Vermont movie theater. She used it in a vintage men's store she once owned in Williamsburg called Houndstooth: Fine Vintage for Men. She told us why she still keeps it around:

While I was getting the store ready, I realized that I had no plan for a dressing room and found these amazing large wall panels, which once served as sound insulation for a now defunct movie theater in Vermont. I have the entire series that used to hang on those large cinema walls; two panels when put together make the face of W.C. Fields, one shows the debonair Clark Gable (see below), and the others have images of movie spotlights and a man with a film camera.

The wall panel

I used the Clark Gable one as the main wall for the dressing room and it was definitely something that customers loved about my little shop.

I closed my store in 2009 to pursue my work as a sound artist full-time and sold off a majority of my inventory and store fixtures. But for some reason I have not been able to let these panels go...

Now they are all lying along a shared wall with our neighbor, helping to keep the sound in my studio from traveling too far. It's actually perfect. 

A self portrait

When you close the door of my studio/master bedroom you can actually record vocals really well in there! It works to hold the sound in, and my neighbor never hears me when I'm up late DJing a mix for an upcoming project. So everybody's happy! And I love just looking at them. Especially Clark. He's just so handsome. [Sighs]

Related posts:

What's In my Fridge: Decades-old goose fat and pepto bismol for top chef Anita Lo

Designer Sara Story's trick to expand her living room? A massive Daniel Richter painting

Your Celebrity Neighbor

Design*Sponge blogger Grace Bonney on where to snag vintage Brooklyn decor

Five Minutes With Jonathan Adler

"Sex and the City" set decorator Christina Tonkin shares tips on glamming up a small space

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.