Between May 1979 and January 1987, the East Village Eye breathlessly covered the East Village art scene. Indiscriminate in its interests, the magazine charted the rise of hip hop, graffiti, and punk, and is widely credited with contributing to the intermingling of several New York scenes.
This show at James Fuentes, instigated by various artists associated with an exhibition in 1980 called The Real Estate Show, is a reconstruction of a spontaneous action that began in late 1979.
While the Metropolitan Museum of Art canonizes punk on the Upper East Side, A Gathering of the Tribes gallery is quietly celebrating its 20th anniversary on the Lower East Side. Across the street from the Nuyorican Poets Café and blocks from the former CBGB, Steve Cannon’s A Gathering of the Tribes brings together artists of all disciplines and backgrounds.
New York bristles with energy, and what makes it continually captivating for me is that this spirit comes so much from the people and acts of creation that can be just stumbled upon in the street. Last week in the East Village, at the corner of First Avenue and 7th Street, I saw an enthusiastic crowd chanting along to what seemed to be a lesson in Italian but was actually a component of a book party for Annie Rachele Lanzillotto.
This week New York’s East Village went from having only two tiny historic districts (about a block long each) and a short list of individually landmarked sites to a much larger, newly approved historic district that covers a lot of ground, from the Bowery to Avenue A and from St. Mark’s Place down to East 2nd Street. The city’s Landmarks Commission approved the proposed East Village Historic District with only a few slight modifications.
Tom Sanford and Graham Preston’s latest project, “Saints of the Lower East Side” (2012), remembers “when,” or more precisely marches out some of the progressive history of an area that has been mostly reduced to cool tshirts from a bygone era.
Alison Klayman’s 90-minute film Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry set out to be a portrait of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and along the way morphed into a highbrow, jaw-dropping reality show about fumbling, corrupt governments (China), social media (Twitter), democracy and art (Weiwei) and the power of the state (courtesy the Chengdu police), with cameo appearances by Truth, Justice and the American Way (Weiwei as a quasi Superman), brought to you by the insightful commentary of Evan Osnos of the New Yorker (among others).
On Tuesday, a partial victory was made in preserving a part of New York City history. The Landmarks Preservation Commission announced a new landmark district on East 10th Street between Avenues A and B, which is lined with single-family homes dating back to the 1840s. The only issue: Building 315 that, stands smack dab in the middle of the street, fell through the cracks.
Mark Kostabi is a name I haven’t heard for ages. The man is synonymous with New York’s 1980s East Village scene but he’s disappeared from many recent narratives of the era. Now, our favorite guy on the bike (aka James Kalm) caught up with the artist at his current show in Soho. This short video is a taste of a longer interview James Kalm promises to post in a few days but it’ll give you a good sense of the once ubiquitous artist who art history (almost) forgot.
Even friends of this nerd who are self-proclaimed Modern art fanatics in New York City have often never heard of one East Village museum that has been exhibiting Modern art for years. The Ukrainian Museum on East 6th Street always brings a smile to my face as I explore the galleries with that feeling of discovery that comes with being in a great New York City space that few know about and that most of my non-Ukrainian friends have never been to.