Tis the season to celebrate the Lower East Side, so get thee to “Punks, Losers, Screw-ups and Goofballs,” a new exhibit at the recently opened 174 Rivington Street Bar and Gallery that celebrates the art of Cliff Mott.
The show pays tribute to the LES music scene of the late ’80s and ’90s, when Mott haunted the neighborhood and ended up producing a plethora of flyers, posters, t-shirt and sleeve art for bands such as the Fleshtones, Dictators, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Devil Dogs, Velvet Underground, Dee Snider and CBGB.
“You almost just fell into it,” he recalled over the phone. “You knew a lot of musicians, they needed flyers and all, and you’re happy to provide them and they’re happy to get anything, everything to stand apart from the crowd.” As a result, the walls of 174 Rivington Street Bar and Gallery are lined with original art, mostly black ink on paper, while the bar’s display case contains books and flyers featuring Cliff Mott’s art.
Mott’s style is recognizable for its clean, bold lines, its caricatural facial features (check out Debbie Harry’s razor sharp cheekbones) and for what curator Lexie Chapman refers to as “kinky” legs — wobbly gams bent in unnatural angles. The Pratt alumn has been drawing since he was five. He grew up on the old Batman TV show, and, as a kid, started drawing stick figures of Batman and Robin. “I just loved it so much that I kept at it and kept drawing,” he said.
He eventually did illustrations for the likes Playboy and Penthouse, one of which shows a Gollum-like Spider-Man jerking off mid-air (yours for just $500). “I also did a piece for Hustler,” he let us know. “So I covered every base in that industry.”
There are tableaus of comic art, as well: in “Sports For The Undead,” from Cracked, a series of corpses in various stages of decomposition play their own version of bowling and cricket. “Humor is always a theme that runs through everything I do,” Mott explained. Next up, he’s working on a rock-and-roll horror comic with a friend, giving stories from rock history a horror-like spin.
“Punk Losers, Screw-Ups & Goofballs: The LES Art of Cliff Mott” at 174 Rivington Street, through June 17