Artists have been largely absent from the public discourse surrounding the allegations of sexual assault against Bill Cosby, another of which was just lodged, and about which the comedian remains silent.
With a group show simply titled The Contract, the Lower East Side gallery Essex Street encourages us to consider an old proposition: the “Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement” by the pioneering dealer of conceptual art Seth Siegelaub and the lawyer Robert Projansky.
Station Independent Projects, a sliver of space on the Lower East Side, is currently presenting a video piece by Pierre St-Jacques that not only transcends the medium’s clichés, but is a work of such intense longing and beauty that stepping back out onto the hubbub of Suffolk Street is a shock.
In the course of writing The Rise and Fall of Artists’ SoHo (Routledge), I read several earlier books about lofts and artists in lower Manhattan. The most embarrassing by far, in spite of some research worth crediting, was Sharon Zukin’s Loft Living: Culture and Capital in Urban Change.
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.
Punk is 40 years old, believe it or not. Now that it’s middle-aged, has punk become passé? Have the few protagonists who survived from the excesses of the era become flabby and bland? No, not necessarily — judging by punk icon Richard Hell, once known as the king of the Lower East Side.
It took two centuries for the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan to be remembered, when 18th century bones were found interred in a forgotten cemetery beneath the construction of a new high dollar federal development in 1991. While that long-overlooked cemetery is now remembered with a museum and monument, much less has been done to commemorate New York City’s Second African Burial Ground, and the dead deserve better.
Arlene’s Grocery, the popular Lower East Side bar, gallery space, and concert venue, has taken down a show featuring the work of Robert Preston, arguing that the artist’s work was too “aggressive” and “literal” for their venue. Preston’s pieces, all paintings from his Seven Deadly Sins series, were slated to run at the space through the end of the month, but he found his works censored the day after Monday’s opening and was asked to take them down.
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.
The shadows of memory and haunting of the afterlife are entwined through three shows currently open on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side. While perhaps odd choices for the warming weather that generally restores life to the streets, these exhibitions dwell more on death, offering some intelligent contemplations of how art can function as a form of remembrance.
The Lower East Side is getting a little less weird, losing not only one of its last stalwarts of experimental performance arts, but one of its most prolific supporters as well. The Living Theatre is closing its Clinton Street location after falling behind on rent, and founder and theater maven Judith Malina is being forced to move along with it.
Gabriel Solomon Brodie grew up in a tenement on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. That he became an artist who achieved what he did in a relatively short period — his career spans around twenty-five years — is a testament to his ferocious persistence. Wanting desperately to get himself out of his impoverished circumstances, he became a painter. He did so out of the purest motivation: he fell in love with painting.