Every day, New Yorkers must navigate an ongoing state of pandemic limbo. Taking this uncertainty as its subject, Try Us evokes the precarious position of many New York mom-and-pops, particularly restaurants. The work depicts the storefront window of a diner or bodega. Decals advertising an assortment of prepared foods including bagels, burgers, and deli sandwiches mark this business as the type of familiar fixture seen on neighborhood blocks throughout the city.
Despite these instantly recognizable signs, the details of the image reveal a less reliable reality. The lights lining the window are illuminated, but behind the glass, the shelves are bare. There are e-bikes outside, seeming to indicate take-out orders in action, but no people are visible inside or outside the restaurant. These indeterminate signals prompt us to ask: Is it open? Is it new, or was it there before the pandemic? Did it close recently? At the same time, the invocation to “Try Us,” which hangs in the window, reads as both an invitation and a challenge: simultaneously welcoming customers and defiantly insisting on staying afloat amid an ongoing global health and economic crisis.
“New York is defined by its small, neighborhood businesses that typically represent an individual’s vision,” Taylor says. “These ventures make the city a place for authentic experience in a country consumed by chains and national companies that seek to drive the idiosyncrasies of the individual out of their corporate process.”
Try Us is an homage to the character and importance of local, independent businesses within our communities.