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Two Exhibitions Illuminate Queer NYC Subculture During the AIDS Epidemic

Image: © Estate of David Wojnarowicz, Democracy, 1990, Black-and-white silkscreen print, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City

A black-and-white illustration by David Wojnarowicz, on view last week at Chelsea gallery ClampArt, shows a grim reaper descending with a large scythe. The reaper claims to be “Democracy At Work,” but freely slices through individuals and activists voicing concerns like “No healthcare,” “Killer cops,” “Corrupt politicians,” and “Unemployment.” Though the piece was created in 1990, this so-called democracy keeps on wounding today.

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Women Getting Lit, Plexiglas Playgrounds, and More Art

Kate Hush (image via Cooler Gallery)

Kate Hush (image via Cooler Gallery)

Female Behavior
Opening Tuesday January 10 at Cooler Gallery, 7 pm to 10 pm. On view through January 31. 

Firstly, let’s discuss this gallery’s name. Sure, it sounds sort of pompous, in a cooler-than-you kind of way, and maybe that’s what they think of themselves. But the origin of this gallery is actually, well, cool. It exists within a “repurposed industrial icebox” in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, so it really is a cooler gallery. Plus, it seeks to display work that involves elements of manufacturing, so it’s aware of its roots. But enough about the gallery, let’s get to the show: artist Kate Hush makes massive sculptures of neon light, and what she is particularly trying to capture in her solo show, Female Behavior, are women and their so-called “wicked ways.” She writes of light being produced when bonds are broken, such as the cutting of a diamond, so she has crafted female silhouettes to portray those who are seen as cruel and conniving simply for being “sharp” or for cutting ties with a man who will then call her crazy. May women burn bright and powerful as much as they can, especially now.

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Art Openings: Genderless Fashion, Return of the East Village Eye, and More

Raque Ford, Yours Truly, Georgia Brown, 2016, Laser cut plexiglass. (image via ISCP)

Raque Ford, Yours Truly, Georgia Brown, 2016, Laser cut plexiglass. (image via ISCP)

Yours Truly, Georgia Brown
Opening Tuesday September 13 at International Studio and Curatorial Program, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through October 11.

In this show, artist Raque Ford takes on the character of Georgia Brown, a “temptress” figure from the 1940s film and Broadway musical Cabin in the Sky. The show made history as the first production to feature an entirely African-American cast, but the creators were (shocking!) all white. Using a variety of techniques, including plexiglass sculpture and a zine of handwritten letters that attendees can take home with them, Ford will reexamine and rewrite the narrative of Georgia Brown through a rigorous and contemporary lens.

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At Free Films in Tompkins, the Real Star-Crossed Lovers are Baz Luhrmann + Guac

Free Films at Tompkins (Photo: Joshua Davis for The Local East Village)

Free Films at Tompkins (Photo: Joshua Davis for The Local East Village)

Dinner theater is often regarded as cheesy, and not in a good way. Cinemas serving food with flicks can be pricey (and let’s be honest, sometimes a little too air conditioned)– also, where’s that food even coming from? One of those Wolfgang Puck airport terminal franchises? Let’s be real, the answer’s probably much worse than that. So what is one to do when they want to enjoy the blissful multitasking of watching moving pictures with their eyes while shoving deliciousness into their mouths?

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Howl’Ya Honor Ginsberg? By Going to This Beat Poetry Fest

Police cadets reading "Howl" (Photo: Gordon Ball, courtesy of Howl!)

Police cadets reading “Howl” (Photo: Gordon Ball, courtesy of Howl!)

If Allen Ginsberg were still croaking around today, he would’ve just celebrated his 90th birthday. I can see it now– the old man and his expansive beard, its gnarls wafting gently at the rims of coke-bottle glasses. He’d invariably be rocking sandals (whatever to the people locking eye-to-fungi) while boy servants fan him with palm leaves, gently though, so he can still roll those double-sized fatty spliff-spliffs from pages ripped out of On the Road and intermittently flash people from underneath his dashiki. Inevitably, James Franco would be VJing a Howl ft. Grimes remix and everything, everything would be lost.

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Tonight: A Pop-Up Show for Street Heroines, a New History of Women Street Artists

Anarkia, Brazilian street artist (Film still from "Street Heroines")

Anarkia, Brazilian street artist (Film still from “Street Heroines”)

Tonight, you can catch original works by no fewer than 17 street artists all in one place. In an effort to bring attention (and raise some cash money) for her work-in-progress documentary, Street Heroines, filmmaker Alexandra Henry is hosting a one-night-only pop-up exhibition and fundraiser with the help of some of local female street artists including Danielle Mastrion (you may recall her Beastie Boy murals in the East Village), Alice Mizrachi, and Lexi Bella. With the help of Howl Happening, Rabbithole Projects in Dumbo will play host to the free event, which starts at 7:30 pm.

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‘Helen Keller Was an Asshole,’ and Other Things You’ll Learn at the Acker Awards

(Flyer via ACKER awards)

(Flyer via ACKER awards)

Helen Keller was an “undisciplined wild child who nobody could contain, and that’s what makes her heroic,” said Clayton Patterson as he explained the quote in the headline to this story.

I’d heard the unofficial elder-guardian of the Lower East Side say plenty of controversial things like this before, it’s usually part of a strategy of illustrating his radical points– how he disapproves of feminists (for often ignoring the need for the advancement of all women) and gay marriage (also for a reason you might not expect: because legalizing gay marriage does not necessarily signal that all queer people will reap the benefits of mainstream approval). The point with Helen Keller was that real adversity breeds character and makes for interesting art, and that the “wild child” can be a marker of artistic purpose. It’s all connected to how, as an artist-activist, Patterson considers almost everything he does to be both a work of art and an expression of solidarity with the underclasses, the maligned, and the avant-garde. Enter the Acker Awards, a way of recognizing members of the avant-garde arts community for their achievements and influence, happening Thursday, March 17 at Howl! Arts in the East Village.

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Punk Magazine 40th-Anniversary Exhibition

Issue #2 featuring Patti Smith (Image courtesy of Howl! Arts)

Issue #2 featuring Patti Smith (Image courtesy of Howl! Arts)

In 1976, a comic artist named John Holmstrom begot Punk magazine as an excuse to stalk his favorite bands from the downtown scene, and look cool in the process. Needless to say, Holmstrom succeeded (beyond what he ever imagined) in permanently etching the East Village into the throbbing heart of the punk movement, and visualizing an R. Crumb-like vision of the scenes running through Max’s Kansas City and CBGB. Soak up the 40th-anniversary exhibition that opened last week at Howl! Happening and Punk’s lasting influence becomes sharply real.

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Remember When Punk Magazine Made the East Village the Center of the Universe?

Punk magazine celebrates its 40th anniversary at Howl! Arts in the East Village (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Punk magazine celebrates its 40th anniversary at Howl! Arts in the East Village (Photo: Nicole Disser)

In 1976, a comic artist named John Holmstrom begot Punk magazine as an excuse to stalk his favorite bands from the downtown scene, and look cool in the process. Needless to say, Holmstrom succeeded (beyond what he ever imagined) in permanently etching the East Village into the throbbing heart of the punk movement, and visualizing an R. Crumb-like vision of the scenes running through Max’s Kansas City and CBGB. Soak up the 40th-anniversary exhibition that opened last week at Howl! Happening and Punk’s lasting influence becomes sharply real.

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Clayton Patterson Fights ‘Homogenization, Destruction of Anything Independent and Outside’

Outside In at Howl! Happening (Photo: Nicole Disser)

“Outside In” at Howl! Happening (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Last year, Clayton Patterson announced that he and Elsa Rensaa, his partner and collaborator of more than 40 years, were moving from the Lower East Side to a small spa town in Austria. Lucky for anyone who admires his unflagging commitment to keeping it real and his tirades against the processes of gentrification and corporatization (see: his damning of Taylor Swift as the city’s cultural ambassador), the 66-year-old outsider artist, photographer, tattoo artist, dissident, and haberdasher who is known to many as the neighborhood’s “last bohemian” is not just still residing there, he also has a new solo exhibition. If you haven’t had a chance to see “Outside In” at Howl! Happening, tonight is the night to do so: the gallery will be screening Captured, the must-see documentary about Clayton’s obsessive documentation of the city as it once was.

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Lydia Lunch Is Back in NYC to Spit Fire and Open Her New Solo Show

ephemera featured in Lunch's new exhibition (courtesy of Lydia Lunch)

ephemera featured in Lunch’s new exhibition (courtesy of Lydia Lunch)

A couple weeks back I was lucky enough to have lunch with Lydia Lunch, a legendary figure in the New York no wave scene and the hurricane-like force behind Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, queen of spoken word, and now a multi-faceted visual artist who remains inextricably tied to the downtown scene of the late 1970s and ’80s despite having left New York City in the dust a long time ago. Understandably, Lunch’s feelings about the city have changed somewhat over the years. “I hate fuckin’ New York,” she told me. “It’s dirty and you’re paying five times too much for every fuckin’ thing. I don’t understand how it can be so expensive and still suck in so many ways. The quality of the food, the subways– I’d rather walk. Rats, disgusting.”

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