That’s what the show “All | Together | Different” aims to prove. Opening on Thursday, Feb. 12 at the Manny Cantor Center, it’s a survey of current Lower East Side artists. The exhibit, which includes nearly 100 artists ranging in age from 29 to 92, celebrates those who “steadfastly engaged with the forever-changing and forever-the-same neighborhood,” according to a press release. Those who fled to Williamsburg, not welcome.
The multimedia exhibition includes paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture, prints, installation, and video from 1982 to 2015, and is co-curated by Linda Griggs and Yona Verwer. This will be the 13th exhibition Griggs has curated or assisted with, and Verwer’s 24th.
The exhibition celebrates 33 years the Lower East Side’s unique artistic culture, but it is not a glorification of bygone days. “Lore would have it that the storied past of the Lower East Side and emergent East Village art scene ended with gentrification in the 90s,” said a statement from the Manny Cantor Center. “This exhibition is not about a history of the Lower East Side’s artists. It is a survey of Today’s Lower East Side artists.” Artists featured include Erik Foss, Kiki Smith, Roger Welch, Richard Hambleton, Kim Keever, Kembra Pfahler, Rick Prol, Jim Radakovich, James Romberger, Anton Van Dalen, Marc Kehoe, David Sandlin, Judith Simonian, Hans Witschi, Susanna Coffey, and Marguerite Van Cook.
Coffey, one of the featured artists, has been working out of the Clemente Soto Velez Community Center in the Lower East Side for over a decade. “I find myself rewarded by expanding my community whenever possible,” Coffey told Bedford + Bowery. “I’m very glad to be included in a community that’s very identified with this neighborhood that has given so much.”
Appropriately, the exhibition celebrates the re-opening of the Educational Alliance Art School at the Manny Cantor Center following a complete renovation. The Educational Alliance Art School was founded in 1917 and teaches drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, and jewelry making. The Manny Cantor Center, located at 197 East Broadway, is a project of the Lower East Side institution and a behemoth catch-all for the community: it has a health and fitness center, a Jewish preschool, Head Start and Early Head Start programs, parenting programs, senior and teen centers, cultural programming, and, of course, an art school.
The opening reception will be held on February 12 from 7 to 9 p.m. and will feature, in addition to the art, “extended, moody bass and percussion,”a poetry reading, and a photo booth.