This week, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.
Japan Premium Beef at 57 Great Jones Street. (Photo: Hanna Wallis)
Below the sparkling glint of a crystal chandelier, slabs of meat rest behind glass as if displayed in a museum. Each label is handwritten in gold ink on a black card, leaving a sense of mortal weight; something lost, commemorated, aggrandized.
The little butcher shop at 57 Great Jones Street lacks any trace of blood or a stained smock. It gives no hint of the secrets lurking in the building’s history, like an art icon’s untimely death or the 1905 murder that catalyzed the decline of the Italian mob in the Bowery. The shop’s unexpected elegance hides the death intrinsic to each of its products. Steaks appear as objects of art, an impression their price tags reinforce.
Okay, not hanging — this is street art, after all. But check out the mural that Solus and John “Crash” Matos put up today just across the way from the former CBGB, at Bleecker and Bowery. According to the LISA Project, the piece is part of the LoMan Art Festival, and marks the anniversary of the Ramones’ first show at CBGB, on August 16, 1974.
In case you missed out on your chance to score a , we’ve got you covered. Local artist Julissa Lopez has a Basquiat Munny for sale, and it can be yours for a measly $300.
Lopez started painting Munny dolls after a friend introduced her to the vinyl figurines, made by Kidrobot, two years ago. With a background in makeup artistry, she got her hands on the dolls and decided to add clay to make them more life-like. She molds the clay onto the four-inch-tall vinyl figurines, then bakes them and paints over them with acrylic paint. More →
The celebrity cemetery on Broome Street has no headstones, graves or flowers. Through Sunday, the Whitebox Art Center will display 51 portraits from British painter Robert Priseman’s “FAME” series, depicting stars who “died prematurely from suicide or as a result of a self-destructive lifestyle.” More →
Last night, it was naked girls reading. Tonight, it’s a naked guy drawing. But not just any naked guy. At 6 p.m., Suzanne Geiss’s Lower East Side gallery celebrates the opening of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Reclining Nude, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: intimate photos taken by Interview contributor Paige Powell during her two-year relationship with the artist who made his home on Great Jones Street. You can read all about the couple’s tumultuous run (right down to vivid descriptions of Basquiat’s b.o.) in Warhol’s diaries, and here’s the gallery’s blurb about the exhibit. More →
Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong are sifting through their voluminous archive of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library.
Described by the Soho Weekly News as “New York’s best party band,” Strange Party was a witty, stylish group serving up a fizzy cocktail of performance art with a dash of Latin-infused new wave. They were a huge outfit with six backup musicians and four vocalists upfront. And what vocalists! Led by downtown art star Joey Arias, the quartet was rounded out by Tony Frere, Paige Wood, and Janus Budde. They were eccentric and compelling — their guitarist George Elliot once described the band as “a little like heavy metal Ricky Ricardo.” Joey suggested they were just trying to turn art into fun. More →
Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong continue sorting through their archives of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library.
Looking back at the cover of the L.P. that The Offs released in 1984, we didn’t remember that Jean-Michel Basquiat had designed it. But the image of their lead singer, Don Vinyl, face down, his bicep glistening with the tattoo of a .45 pistol — that we had not forgotten.
We recall Don coming to our apartment the day he got the ink, his arm still red and a little bloody. “Paul Simonon is getting the same one!” he told us, excitedly. It was the summer of 1981 and everyone in the East Village was getting tats, even The Clash. Bob Roberts, The Offs’ saxophonist — and also a tattooist — had done the work for both. More →