by Brian Ponte with Contributed Reporting by Sierra Petro and Ben Verde
By now, most of the Purchase community is aware of the saga of the Visual Arts building’s hidden Danny DeVito shrine. Located in a hidden room behind a broken paper towel dispenser in a VA building bathroom, the shrine has recently received considerable attention from websites like Mashable, Business Insider, and even Chilean newspaper Publimetro.
Like the wax wings of Icarus, the shrine’s meteoric rise led to its tragic fate, as the facilities department sealed off the hidden room containing the shrine a day after it began to make the rounds on social media.
“When I set it up originally I just put up the cardboard cutout of Danny with the note saying ‘leave offerings for our lord and savior Danny DeVito patron saint of trashmen,’” said Phillip Hosang, a Painting and Drawing major whose work has garnered national media attention.
“From there the other students who knew about the location discovered the shrine and added things over time. I set it up in late september and only added a wall scroll a bit later.”
Hosang said that school officials salvaged most of the shrine and informed Hosang that they would be willing to “reinstall it in a new location eventually.” The creator of Purchase’s most popular art exhibit at the moment expressed some surprise regarding how swiftly the college acted in sealing off the room.
“I get why, since it was big news and it would probably be a bit bad for people to see that the school had a random hole none of the faculty were aware of,” Hosang said. “I wish they would also act that fast with my work orders.”
The rest of the student body has also expressed dismay at the sealing of the room, not only because the loss of the shrine, but also because of the room’s usefulness as an artistic space.
“It’s one of the most industrial spaces on campus, so its aesthetic use was awesome,” said Henry Caughy, a Film and Video Production Major. “It has been used by varying Purchase kids for varying art projects. I actually used it to shoot a music video like three weeks ago.”
Graphic Design major Damian Colavito lamented the loss of what he referred to as “one of the best inside jokes us VA kids had.” Colavito recalled a time when the hidden space contained little more than Taco Bell hot sauce packets.
Colavito views the sealing off of the room from a glass-half-full perspective, as he feels it provides an opportunity for a legend to grow which will hopefully be explored by future generations.
“In like 20 years kids are going to look back to hunt down the rumor of the shrine of Danny DeVito and that makes me really happy,” Colavito said.
Michael Kopas, Director of Facilities and Capital Planning, said his department had no choice but to seal off the hidden room due to the safety hazard it posed, and said that he had not previously been aware that students had access to the room before the series of viral tweets.
"Once we knew, there was really no choice other than to secure the opening and not allow continued access," Kopas said. "It’s a room with no lighting and without a compliant means of egress. The space does not meet the code requirements necessary to make it an occupiable space."
Update, Nov. 1, 3:00: Danny DeVito finally responded to the Shrine's existence on Twitter on Friday. "Your shrine honors me, my heart is filled with love and garbage," wrote the eccentric actor, most well known among Millennials for his role on the long running FX comedy "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
"Tomorrow, as you know is my name day. Do something that makes you feel good. Above all be kind to each other. Pick up trash, recycle and be aware of plastics in the ocean," wrote DeVito, referring to New Jersey, DeVito's home state, passing a law in April officially declaring Nov. 17 "Danny DeVito Day."
Meanwhile, Purchase student Devin Blake has started a Change.org petition asking Dean of Student Affairs Dennis Craig to secure DeVito as Purchase's commencement speaker in 2019. The petition has generated 262 signatures as of Friday at 3:00, with a goal of 500.
Update 3:17: The shrine will reportedly be moved to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Yonkers, where it is said to be used in some sort of DeVito themed shenanigans. Check back here for updates.