The last time I saw a bunch of RAE BK‘s work all in one place was in 2015, just after the street artist and Brooklyn-native had opened his guerrilla-style solo exhibition in Chinatown. But the show wasn’t held at a gallery, instead RAE’s site-specific installation was housed inside a dingy old basement, accessible only by way of an unmarked, totally unassuming rust-red metal door adjacent to a bustling produce market. Even then, I was so jaded that I couldn’t allow myself to believe that this was a real basement with real dirt and dust everywhere. But actually it wasn’t just a fancy pop-up rental space with a stage-grit makeover, nor was it an attempt by some developer to “activate” a particular corner before the building was torn down. As RAE told me, the basement was simply on loan from a recently-retired butcher with whom he had a “tentative relationship,” and the show, called Trunk Work, was one of those rare art happenings that was both real and strange.
Art Start Up!
Tuesday, December 27, 7 pm to 10 pm at Theater for the New City, RSVP by Email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP
This Tuesday, one of the last independent East Village art spaces still hangin’ on, Theater for the New City, will welcome a group of artists as well as an array community organizations to engage in a conversation about the East Village and Lower East Side arts scene. There’s a lot to survey: the current state of things, what’s missing, what improvements should be made to best suit the community the arts (hopefully) serve, and economic barriers that may be in place. That last one is sure to be a long conversation.
A scowling woman shoved a plastic bag in my face and gestured toward the mound of grapefruits at a Chinatown grocery like any other. “No thanks,” I smiled, pointing toward the rust red door with chicken scratch white paint that reads: 94 1/2. “Oh,” she said knowingly and smiled. Unlike everyone else clucking around the piles of produce, I wasn’t shopping. I was looking for an art show supposedly behind this dingy door. I tentatively knocked and heard no echo, no indication there was anything but darkness behind there, let alone an exhibition dedicated to work by the street artist RAE, some recent and some that might have otherwise been lost had it not been for a helpful neighbor.