Showing posts sorted by relevance for query 98 Bowery. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query 98 Bowery. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Life at 98 Bowery: 1969-1989

Marc H. Miller enjoys telling stories through pictures, something he has done during his career as an educator, writer, photographer and museum curator.

Late last year, Miller, the founder and director of Ephemera Press, launched 98 Bowery: 1969-1989 — View From the Top Floor. The content-rich Web site is a pictorial account of Miller's life in a 2,000-square-foot loft space at 98 Bowery and of the broader creative community that flourished in the Lower East Side from 1969 to 1989.

As he notes on the site: "'View from the Top Floor'" brings together some of these stories in a chronicle of my life and the creative world I experienced during the 20 years I lived ... at 98 Bowery."

Last spring, Miller was preparing to move to Brooklyn Heights after 20 years of living in Park Slope. In his basement, he found dozens of long-forgotten boxes containing photos and other documents from his years on the Bowery.

A portrait of Miller by Carla Dee Ellis circa 1969

In a Q-and-A with EV Grieve done via e-mail, Miller talks about launching, his days on the Bowery and his view of the LES today.

When did the 98 Bowery site launch?

The 98 Bowery Web site just naturally happened. There was all this material about events that had seemed so important in the 1970s and 80s; things that I had totally repressed and forgotten. I just felt compelled to get it out again. Everything about the site — the name, the content, the way it’s organized — was totally clear right from the start. The site really started moving last December when a young Web designer, Haoyan of America, began helping me. It is now about two-thirds complete. It has become a very compulsive thing. I just want to finish it. It has been very liberating.

What originally drew you to living on the Bowery?

In the late 1960s, it was totally impossible to find a place in New York. My friend John Wilmer, who moved to New York from California at the same time I did to study at the School of Visual Arts, found a short sublet at 96 Bowery and heard that 98 was going to be rented out to artists. He was the one who originally signed the lease but it took so long for the landlord Sol Fried to get the place legalized that John gave up and returned to California.

By that time I was living with a painter, Carla Dee Ellis, and we jumped at the chance of getting the loft. We were living in a tiny apartment on Thompson Street. It was all about getting space then. We were from California. Carla grew up in the desert near Palm Springs where her back yard extended all the way to the horizon. But in the end what was really great about the loft was not just the space but that it was our entry point into the art world. is about a social network.

Harry Mason at Harry's Bar

Your site includes a section with photos of Harry Mason, proprietor of Harry's Bar, which was located on the ground floor at 98 Bowery. What is your favorite memory from Harry's Bar?

In the late 1970s my partner Bettie Ringma was working as a tour guide. When the tour buses came down Bowery she always pointed out where we lived and talked about the men on the street. One time, right before Thanksgiving, a German tourist gave her $50 to get a turkey for the patrons of Harry’s Bar. Bettie cooked the turkey and brought it downstairs where it was well-received. We learned though that most of the men at the bar were so far gone physically they could barely eat. Harry’s Bar was not a place that you really want to romanticize. That night when we watched the news on television there was a story about Cardinal O’Connor serving turkey three blocks down at the Bowery Mission. I couldn’t help but feel that Bettie and the German tourist made a better story.

You spent two years in Holland from 1979-1981. Was there a noticeable difference to the Bowery upon your return?

When we returned in 1981 the whole East Village thing was beginning to happen. It was sort of like a generational switch. All of the young artists who were on the outside in the late 1970s were suddenly taking over and being imitated. Those were exciting but also frustrating times. The scene was exploding but it was also being defined by newcomers and distorted in all sorts of unexpected ways.

I recently saw an issue of the East Village Eye from around 1982 with a cartoon cover about the death of Punk Magazine by John Holmstrom, one of the magazine’s founders. The cartoon showed John and his cohort Legs McNeil sitting on a street corner looking depressed in their late-70s-style black leather jackets. All around them are people with Mohawks and wild, animal patterned outfits. The caption reads, “Well Legs, I guess we blew it.” During the early 1980s, I became involved with the Lower East Side gallery ABC No Rio, wrote a column for the East Village Eye and did video interviews for a video magazine on art, ART/new york.

Captain Sensible of the Damned with Bettie Ringma at CBGB

What are your thoughts on the Bowery as you see it today?

[The late] Marcia Tucker was a classmate of mine in graduate school and I’m really glad to see the New Museum grow so large and move to the Bowery. I’m also impressed with Ethan Swan’s Bowery Artist Tribute at the New Museum and the map of Bowery artists they created for the Internet. It was when I started pulling together some pictures and information for that project and was interviewed by Ethan on video about my experiences on the Bowery that I actually began my 98Bowery Web site.

What do you want people who visit to take away from the site?

The site is my story and the story of people I knew and worked with. It’s also unavoidably a small lens on the bigger downtown art and music scene in the 1970s and 1980s. During those years, I had no doubt that I was at the heart of the action, and I want people to see things as I experienced them. History can be very selective but it can also be nudged along by good story telling. That’s what I try to do with the site. Some of the events and some of the people are fairly well-known. Others are less so. Hopefully the site will give people a bigger picture of those years.

I’m also hopeful that the site will give people a fuller picture of who I am. I’ve lived a varied life. At various times I’ve been an art historian, conceptual artist, photographer, newspaper columnist, magazine journalist, video art interviewer, museum curator and publisher. People usually know me through just one of those identities and those that do know me through multiple identities usually don’t fully understand how they connect.

To me though, it’s all one thing. I like telling stories with pictures. That’s what I do. That’s what I’m doing with the 98Bowery Web site. It brings together new picture stories and picture stories I did previously in many different formats that tell about my world from 1969-1989.

Miller with Al Goldstein

Friday, August 31, 2012

Bettie and the Ramones head back to the Bowery

Starting on Sept. 19, the New Museum is paying tribute to the "original artwork, ephemera and performance documentation" by artists who lived and worked on or near the Bowery.

The exhibit is titled "Come Closer: Art Around the Bowery, 1969–1989." Per the release:

During these two decades, the Bowery was commonly identified with the furthest extremes of metropolitan decline — municipal neglect, homelessness, and substance abuse. As landlords and civil services abandoned the neighborhood, the subsequent cheap rents and permissive atmosphere drew artists downtown.

The Bowery’s lofts provided a social network where painters, photographers, performance artists, musicians, and filmmakers exchanged ideas and drew inspiration from this concentration of creative activity.

The collection has been assembled from the New Museum's own collection as well as 98 Bowery, the online portal that Marc H. Miller curates. (You can read our Q-and-A with Miller here.)

Miller told us that the Museum will be exhibiting Bettie & the Ramones, which marks the first time that Curt Hoppe's painting has been shown publicly since 1978. (The piece was part of the the Punk Art Exhibition in Washington D.C. in 1978. Read more about that here.)

[Photo by Marc H. Miller & Bettie Ringma]

Miller now owns the painting, and on Wednesday, workers packed it up for the trip from his Brooklyn home to the Bowery....

[Photos courtesy of 98 Bowery via Facebook]

In an interview with us in February 2010, Hoppe shared his favorite Ramones story:

My best memory about the Ramones has got to be when they signed the painting Bettie and the Ramones back in 1978. You can’t imagine the thrill of carrying that big 4’ x 6’ painting down the Bowery and getting the Ramones to specially come over to CBs in the afternoon just to sign it. Tommy was still in the group. They all just stood there staring at it. I think Joey was the only one who really got it.

Dee Dee was all hyper and kept asking their manager Danny Fields if it was OK to sign it. Then Johnny asked, "Who's Bettie?" I replied, "She's every Fan." When we carried that autographed painting back to 98, Marc, Bettie and I were just flying. I love the Ramones.

[Via Curt Hoppe's website, where you can find more of the Ramones]

The Bowery exhibition will include works by Barbara Ess, Coleen Fitzgibbon, Keith Haring, John Holmstrom, Hoppe, Colette Lumiere, Miller, Adrian Piper, Adam Purple, Dee Dee Ramone, Joey Ramone, Marcia Resnick, Bettie Ringma, Christy Rupp, Arleen Schloss, Charles Simonds, Eve Sonneman, Billy Sullivan, Paul Tschinkel, Arturo Vega and Martin Wong.

Read the release about "Come Closer" here.

For further reading on EV Grieve:
Life at 98 Bowery: 1969-1989

Revisiting Punk Art

Q-and-A with Curt Hoppe: Living on the Bowery, finding inspiration and shooting Mr. Softee

Friday, October 18, 2019

Marc H. Miller on 20 years atop 98 Bowery

Artist and curator Marc H. Miller, who we've featured on EVG through the years (see links below!), will be at Howl! Happening tomorrow (Saturday) night discussing his life downtown ... particularly the years he lived in a loft at 98 Bowery as an observer and participant in the changes taking place in art and music.

A quick overview of what to expect:

Drawing from the site’s archive of photos and video clips, Miller recounts stories about Harry’s Bar and CBGB; the seminal 1978 Punk Art show; collaborative work with Bettie Ringma, Curt Hoppe, Alan Moore, and Paul Tschinkel — all residents at 98 Bowery; his year in Amsterdam; and the varied roles he played in the East Village art scene and in the rise of hip-hop culture in the 1980s.

Miller is the curator of the Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk exhibition at the Queens Museum (2016), and for his video interview with Jean-Michel Basquiat in Paul Tschinkel’s Art/new york series. His online store Gallery 98 has reanimated vintage art ephemera.

Miller will also be unveiling an an updated version of his website 98 Bowery: 1969-89.

The presentation begin tomorrow (Oct. 19) at 7 p.m. at Howl! Happening, 6 E. First St. between Second Avenue and the Bowery.

You can also read a Q&A between Miller and Eric Davidson at Please Kill Me right here.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Life at 98 Bowery: 1969-1989 (Q&A with Miller)

Revisiting Punk Art

On the Bowery: CBGB and its impact on the visual arts and downtown nightlife

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Lives" live at 98 Bowery

Marc H. Miller sends along word about the latest addition to the 98 Bowery site...

Lives: exhibition and catalogue organized by Jeffrey Deitch
The Fine Arts Building, 105 Hudson St., NYC
November 29 - December 20, 1975

Here's a little bit more about it....:

The "Lives" exhibition by Jeffrey Deitch that opened in November 1975 at the Fine Arts Building featured the experimental artists that I had admired and identified with in the early 1970s. The exhibition also marked the start of a brief period when the Fine Arts Building, a large, eleven-floor office building at 105 Hudson Street, was the center of an energetic art scene that helped rejuvenate the deserted neighborhood just south of Soho -- the now fashionable Tribeca. With its abundance of cheap live-in studios, offices and exhibition spaces, the building fostered the camaraderie and networking that helped nourish radical new directions in the 1980s. For those who were there it was a stimulating time that ended abruptly when the building went co-op in the late 1970s. The young artists and fledgling galleries that helped develop the building and neighborhood were priced out and had to seek new quarters. Most migrated to the East Village and the Lower East Side where a new phase in the evolution of the art of the period began.

[Flyer from 1978, via 98 Bowery]

Today, 105 Hudson is home to, among other things, Nobu....

For further reading on EV Grieve:
Life at 98 Bowery: 1969-1989

Revisiting Punk Art

Q-and-A with Curt Hoppe: Living on the Bowery, finding inspiration and shooting Mr. Softee

Voices from 98 Bowery's past

Friday, June 10, 2011

Introducing Gallery 98

Marc H. Miller passes along word about the latest edition to the 98 Bowery website ...

For collectors interested in New York’s downtown art scene circa 1980, the website 98 Bowery has debuted a unique online gallery featuring ephemera, multiples and one-of-a-kind artworks connected to the radical art group Collaborative Projects Inc. (aka “Colab”).

During its short but eventful history, Colab left its mark with exhibitions like the Times Square Show and the Real Estate Show, the affiliated alternative spaces Fashion Moda in the South Bronx and ABC No Rio in the Lower East Side, and a succession of pop-up “A More Stores” featuring low-priced artist multiples. Working collectively, the group was an incubator for ideas and a launching pad for member artists like Jenny Holzer, Tom Otterness, and Kiki Smith. Every item listed on Gallery 98 dates from Colab’s prime years, 1975 – 1985.

Among the items:

Find more here.

For further reading on EV Grieve:
Life at 98 Bowery: 1969-1989

Revisiting Punk Art

Q-and-A with Curt Hoppe: Living on the Bowery, finding inspiration and shooting Mr. Softee

Voices from 98 Bowery's past

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New on 98 Bowery: Basquiat, Haring and ART/new york

[Photo via 98 Bowery]

Marc H. Miller has told me about another major addition to the 98Bowery site.

ART/new york; A Video Magazine on Art
(1981 - 1985)

Between 1981 and 1985, Miller and Paul Tschinkel collaborated on 17 ART/new york programs containing interviews with more then 50 artists. Miller wrote the narration and conducted the interviews. Tschinkel produced the series and worked the camera. The tapes were co-directed. (Tschinkel continues producing ART/new york programs.)

This is the story of the early years of a pioneering effort to provide video coverage of the New York art world. 98Bowery now includes segments from historic video programs with artist interviews and rare footage of exhibitions. Among the footage that you'll find:

-- Richard Serra & the Tilted Arc Controversy (1982-83)
-- John Ahearn, "We Are Family", Public Sculpture Dedication, South Bronx (1982-83)
-- Graffiti/ Post Graffiti – Opening at the Sidney Janis Gallery; Collaborative -- Painting Demonstration at the New York Society for Ethical Culture (1985)
-- Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Fun Gallery (1983)

There are also audio excerpts from interviews with Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Mapplethorpe, Brice Marden, Nam June Paik and Cindy Sherman.

[Photo of Haring via 98Bowery]

As you can imagine, there are stories behind every video here... I asked Miller to share an anecdote about one of the interviews...

"The posting of the Jean-Michel Basquiat tape is in part an attempt to reclaim my credibility. It is the original program that Paul Tschinkel and I made in 1982 and it captures a 21-year-old Basquiat just as he was coming into his own. It includes footage from his phenomenal Fun Gallery exhibition and about four minutes from a 40- minute interview. This may have been the happiest and most upbeat moment of his life.

"Unfortunately, after Basquiat died in 1988, my interview with him was released in its entirety without any editing. In retrospect, this was an incredibly naive and foolish thing to do. Buried within the interview were a few clumsy moments and exchanges in which I played the devil's advocate to elicit lively responses. Over the years, these are the moments that have received the most attention. It's something I've had to live with. I'm just happy after 20 years that I can get the original tape back out there."

Here's an excerpt of ART/new york program no. 30A: JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT: An Interview, uploaded to YouTube by Tschinkel.

By the way, the new Basquiat documentary by Tamra Davis, "The Radiant Child," opens tomorrow at the Film Forum.

For further reading on EV Grieve:
Life at 98 Bowery: 1969-1989

Revisiting Punk Art

Q-and-A with Curt Hoppe: Living on the Bowery, finding inspiration and shooting Mr. Softee

Voices from 98 Bowery's past

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Q-and-A with Curt Hoppe: Living on the Bowery, finding inspiration and shooting Mr. Softee

Curt Hoppe in 1977.

Starting Thursday, legendary hyper-realist artist Curt Hoppe is showing his latest work, "Photographs For Your Kitchen," at the Aces & Eights lounge, 34 Avenue A near Third Street. I connected with Hoppe via Facebook, and was honored that the Minneapolis native, whose work was shown alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat and Robert Mapplethorpe in the early 1980s, agreed to answer some questions on the eve of the new exhibit...

What inspired you to move to NYC from Minneapolis in 1976?

Minneapolis, while a great place to grow up in and get an education, was just a starting line. I can't say that I was inspired to move here more like gravitated or pulled. I grew up listening to the likes of Dylan and the Velvets. I followed Warhol and loved the whole POP art movement -- it was just so America.

I had an uncle living here who was an art dealer and I would come to NYC to visit periodically in the mid to late 1960's. He was the director of the Betty Parsons Gallery and he encouraged me to pursue my artistic interests. He introduced me to Max's Kansas City and got me into the Factory where I was actually was given a silver coke bottle. (I lost it). I grew up in the whole "hippie" period but never really related to the earth child "go west with a flower in your hair" stuff. There was always something deeper darker and more alluring about New York that appealed to me.

It was on one of these NY visits that I stumbled on an ad in the Village Voice for a Bowery Loft, so I slapped down some key money and decided to move here in 1975 to pursue my artist career. Finding the space at 98 Bowery was one of the luckiest events of my life. Through the years it has been a home or stopping place for an array of artists in all fields. I quickly fell in with Marc Miller and Bettie Ringma, my upstairs neighbors who at the time were combing the streets and clubs photographing a lot of New York celebs. One of those clubs was CBGBs. I would hang with them on their nights out and that would eventually lead to the three of us collaborating together. One of such collaborations was a portrait of Bettie and the Ramones at CBs. The painting was autographed by the Ramones and exhibited at the Washington Project for the Arts in what was billed at the time "Punk Art"

Where do you find your inspiration today?

Why I paint what I do stems simply from what I am interested in or how I am feeling at any given time. I always say I paint where I am. That includes my thoughts or where my head is at. What's weird is that inspiration usually comes when I feel a total void and a lack of any interest in anything. I can't live with boredom for very long. I am like a child with a new toy when it comes to my work. When I first get it I love it to death but after a few years need a new toy or fix. My attention span is about 5-7 years with any subject. I like to move on when I feel I have covered the subject and I think it has becomes a formula which tends to cheapen it. There is always a new visual adventure out there waiting to be discovered.

We (me and my fellow LES/EV bloggers) spend a lot of time writing about change in the neighborhood. Instead of focusing on what's no longer here... what do you think has remained a constant in the neighborhood through the years? What makes you feel as if it may be the same place as, say, 30 years ago?

For starters, the residents. In a lot of ways the Bowery is pretty much the same. The Bowery is a street. But it’s the gang that lives here that makes it it what it is. You’d be surprised at how many of the stores have not changed or are just updated versions of stores that have always been here. What is happening now is that advertising has begun tapping into the myth of the Bowery.

The Bowery and LES always had bars, on my block alone there were two -- Harry's and Al's. They're gone but have been replaced by newer establishments and different clientele. There were drunks then and there are drunks now. What's changed is that the smokers have to go outside causing noise. I can’t imagine Harry or Al saying to Jimmy and Jerry, "fellas you can't smoke in here," as they drank White Rose or Night Train. CBs is gone but it was never the Bowery it was CBs on the Bowery. CBs became a caricature of itself after 1982. Most of my neighbors still live here and the neighbors are what make the neighborhood.

While some of the artists have left as in my building others have taken their place. Marc and Bettie left a long time ago and Maya Lin moved in and then moved on. Now a couple of talented gals, Brooke Arnao, a filmmaker, and Elisabeth Bernstein, a photographer, are living and working there. Elisabeth is currently exhibiting at The Wild Project on East 3rd Street with a show titled "Scapes." So in many ways the Bowery is the same. Maybe my building is an exception.

The city has become way over priced making it difficult for young artists to move in early in their careers and with rents constantly going up it’s almost impossible to create a lasting community. Thankfully, many of the folks fought the good fight years ago when they converted these illegal spaces to legal living. But artists all over the world will find a skid row to live and work in until it becomes fun and the masses will follow like they always do. It happened in the Village. It happened to St. Marks, Soho and Times Square all living off an old reputation that no longer exists but is kept alive somehow by the hucksters. Now what the developers are doing is a different story one I could rant about for hours.

In "Photographs for Your Kitchen," you focus on Mr. Softee ice cream cones and Happy Face bags. Why did you decide to explore these NYC motifs?

I finished a series of paintings last year, portraits of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby and local Burlesque performers.

And after three years of work on the series combined with the sinking economy and hoopla around the Elections I was exhausted. I was suffering sort of a Postpartum thing. One Sunday last summer when returning from a visit to Coney Island my wife Ruth felt like having a Mr. Softee. Well, BINGO! When that arm appeared out of that truck holding that cone and it's big swirl of cold Ice Cream, descending down to Ruth I saw "The Creation." Yup, the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.

So I decided to start hanging out by the trucks and photographing this everyday summertime event. I discovered a treasure trove of humanity around it. I would watch a grown adult turn into an eager child as they awaited their cone. For a brief time the area around that Softee window turned into heaven on earth. I carry a camera everywhere I go -- like when I’m walking my dog Dorothy.

I started shooting smiley bags. They are sort of local residents too. I discovered that no matter what their circumstances they are always smiling at me wishing me a nice day and saying thank you. Tossed in the garbage, or squashed under a car tire stretched over a bicycle seat they always make the best of a bad situation. They make me laugh and deserve some attention. So I wanted to exhibit something uplifting and fun.

Favorite Ramones story?

My best memory about the Ramones has got to be when they signed the painting Bettie and the Ramones back in 1978. You can’t imagine the thrill of carrying that big 4’ x 6’ painting down the Bowery and getting the Ramones to specially come over to CBs in the afternoon just to sign it. Tommy was still in the group. They all just stood there staring at it. I think Joey was the only one who really got it.

Dee Dee was all hyper and kept asking their manager Danny Fields if it was OK to sign it. Then Johnny asked, "Who's Bettie?" I replied, "She's every Fan." When we carried that autographed painting back to 98, Marc, Bettie and I were just flying. I love the Ramones.

Another one of Hoppe's paintings...

For further reading on EV Grieve:
Life at 98 Bowery: 1969-1989

Revisiting Punk Art

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Revisiting 'Bettie Visits CBGB'

[Debbie Harry and Bettie Ringma]

Via the EVG inbox...

David Owen, the co-founder of London vintage booksellers IDEA Books Ltd, has chosen Marc H. Miller and Bettie Ringma's “Bettie Visits CBGB” as what he calls a “Superbook”: a rare work of exceptional cultural significance. Owen makes his point in an entertaining and evocative radio program just released by Radio Wolfgang.

A sound collage that mixes interviews with music, the program evokes the Bowery and the glory years of CBGB, using as its centerpiece this collection of 10 color snapshots in a handmade leatherette portfolio. The photographs in “Bettie Visits CBGB” show a young Dutch woman posing with Patti Smith, Blondie, the Ramones, Talking Heads, Richard Hell and other musicians ...

The program, produced by Olivia Humphreys, provides a human look at a remarkable five-year period of cultural history. Among those interviewed are Ringma and Miller, the creators of the portfolio; painter Curt Hoppe, their Bowery neighbor and collaborator; photographer Roberta Bayley, the doorwoman at CBGB; cartoonist John Holmstrom, the founder of Punk magazine; and Susan Springfield, the singer in the Erasers.

Miller, one of the creators of the portfolio, is founder of the website 98 Bowery and the related Gallery 98. To see pictures from the “Bettie Visits CBGB” series, click here. The radio program can be accessed on the website of Radio Wolfgang.

By the way, CBGB closed nine years ago today.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Q-and-A with Curt Hoppe: Living on the Bowery, finding inspiration and shooting Mr. Softee

Life at 98 Bowery: 1969-1989

Q-and-A with John Holmstrom, founding editor of Punk Magazine

John Holmstrom on the CBGB movie and the East Village of 2013

Friday, July 10, 2009

Revisiting Punk Art

Back in May, we did an interview with Marc H. Miller, the founder and director of Ephemera Press. He had launched 98 Bowery: 1969-1989 — View From the Top Floor.

Marc recently wrote to me about a new section on the 98 Bowery site: Punk Art. As he notes at 98 Bowery:

As Bettie Ringma and I watched various musicians at CBGB successfully launched under the rubric of Punk Rock, it occurred to us that we might do the same for the visual artists who were part of the extended scene. It was partly tongue-in-cheek, partly hype, but secretly we actually believed we were presenting something new and important. The year was 1978 and the show we mounted with Alice Denney at the Washington Project for the Arts in Washington DC has gone down in history as the world's first Punk Art exhibition ... We repeated the Punk Art show twice: first as a one night, multimedia event at the School of Visual Arts in New York (November 1978) and then in a small exhibition at Art Something in Amsterdam, Holland (June 1979).

Miller has posted the long out-of-print Punk Art catalogue, which features new pictures and video. He also rewrote the introductions, adding stories connected to the exhibition, and updates on the artists.

My favorite section is on Punk Magazine. Or maybe the section on Alan Suicide and Art-Rite magazine. Or...

Here are the covers to the first three issues of Punk...

...and an ad featuring Debbie Harry (photographed by Chris Stein)

Anyway, you can go here and see it all for yourself.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Q-and-A with Leonard Abrams, publisher of the East Village Eye

[The first issue of East Village Eye in May 1979]

Marc H. Miller recently passed along word about the latest edition to Gallery 98, the online store for the 98 Bowery website.

Miller has obtained a nearly complete set of the East Village Eye, the influential arts newspaper/magazine hybrid that published 72 issues from May 1979 through January 1987.

So I thought this might be an opportune time to interview Leonard Abrams, who was 24 when he started the Eye in early 1979. With an array of unpaid contributors, including Richard Hell, Cookie Mueller, Glenn O’Brien and David Wojnarowicz, the Eye wrote about the neighborhood's emerging art scene as well as provided ample music coverage.

His post-Eye career included opening Hotel Amazon, which brought warehouse-style parties to a former LES school featuring, among many others, De La Soul, Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys.

Today, Abrams lives in Williamsburg. In recent years he made the documentary "Quilombo Country" narrated by Chuck D about a community founded by escaped slaves in Brazil. Meanwhile, he has been working on publishing the entire Eye archive online in searchable PDFs accessible for free. ("This is imminent," he says.)

You were 24 when you launched the Eye in 1979. Being pretty young, were there any issues with people taking you seriously as a publisher at the onset?

People thought I was older. Then after the Eye folded they thought I was younger. Actually at the time a lot of people in the scene pretended they were younger so as not to be thought of as hippie interlopers.

But as I recall, there was such a feeling of newness to what we were doing that no one seemed to feel they could pull rank on the basis of age. And finally, I think that people take longer to get going these days. 24 isn't really that young. I started a paper in Denver when I was 21. That was young.

Did it seem as if you were onto something special at the time with the Eye?

Oh yes. I really felt the weight of it at times. In fact I probably would have pulled the plug a lot earlier but that I felt it was too important not to keep doing it. It's not that we were saving lives [we probably cost a few] but just helping sustain an atmosphere where people could feel so much was possible was very important. And feeling we were remapping the brain was heady, as it were.

What was a typical scene like at the Eye office?

We started at 167 Ludlow then moved to I think 54 East 3rd Street then to 120 St. Marks Place then to 605 East 9th Street then to 611 Broadway. A typical scene was me fighting with music editor and typesetter Celeste-Monique Lindsey over something political and/or inconsequential, people coming in for their mail or to pick up a copy, us on the phone trying to get everyone to hand in their stories on time even though they were writing for free and, the last week of the month, a frenzy of editing, typing and pasting-up.

Kind of stuff that seemed more fun after it was over.

[The Eye staff circa 1985, courtesy of Leonard Abrams]

Do you think something like the East Village Eye could work today (print or online) or do you think the days of any kind of scene here are long over?

I really don't know. Today it's so easy to communicate that it's almost like the communication takes the place of the action. Mind you, we were mostly communicating about communication anyway, but still...

The physical limitations of distribution make a difference too. We sent the Eye out all over the country [in a limited way], but I think text is taken more seriously 1) when you have to pay for it and 2) when there isn't so much of it around.

Still, the kind of scene there was at the time was based on a lot of people doing things out of their own need for self-expression, and now, at least in New York, we have a regime in which hierarchy and monetization, the antitheses of creativity, are the starting points. Thus we need to convince Mayor Bloomberg to immolate himself. While we wait for that to happen, someone should step up and print something.

How about Hotel Amazon? Do you think a space like that could work today on the Lower East Side?

I'd like to see one. Especially since a lot of the spaces in the neighborhood are staffed by clueless snotnoses. But what do you expect? It's the club industry. When Hotel Amazon started I was fairly clueless myself, I was just lucky to be around when hip hop was fresh and generating tons of great acts all the time. The other problem is the great increase in legalism and regulation. The Hotel Amazon was illegal in all kinds of ways. Otherwise it would never have happened. But look at Rubulad. They still manage to throw a bash.

What are you most proud of with the Eye?

I'm most proud of having gotten so many of them out. And hearing someone say something like "I moved to NY because I read the Eye in my home state." I was gratified to have published columns by David Wojnarowicz and Glenn O'Brien and Cookie Mueller and Richard Hell. And to have been told that the term "hip hop" was first printed in the Eye. And to have presented so many idiosyncratic voices in such a deadpan manner, as if what they said was as obvious as the weather. That was fun.

[East Village Eye covers courtesy of Marc H. Miller and 98 Bowery]

For further reading on EV Grieve:
Life at 98 Bowery: 1969-1989

Revisiting Punk Art

Friday, May 28, 2010

Voices from 98 Bowery's past

Marc H. Miller has posted more fascinating content to his 98Bowery site:

Messages from the Telephone Answering Machine, 1982-87

Per the site description:

My world in the 1980s lives on in part through a collection of answering-machine tapes that I recently retrieved from storage. Unlike the digital variety we use today, the old machines recorded messages on cassette tapes purchased separately and placed in the machine. Most people reused their tapes, letting new messages record over the old. But being the pack rat that I am, I kept all messages, and when both sides of a tape were filled, I dated and saved the cassettes. I had no special reason to do this. They were simply archival debris that I couldn’t part with. Hearing the messages again has been revealing. Some are from men and women I knew well, some were left by passing acquaintances, and others, by complete strangers. Some allude to significant occasions, others to frivolous moments, the search for diversions, and the mundane realities of everyday life. Individually each message is a record of a specific person and moment. Together they form something more -- a sound portrait of my life in the 1980's composed of the voices of the people who were in it.

Listem to them all here. (I like the one marked Avenue A...). When you're at the site, be sure to check some of the other features. I could spend the whole weekend doing so. One EV Grieve favorite: the Curt Hoppe and Al Goldstein video.

[Image via Marc H. Miller and 98Bowery]

For further reading on EV Grieve:
Life at 98 Bowery: 1969-1989

Revisiting Punk Art

Q-and-A with Curt Hoppe: Living on the Bowery, finding inspiration and shooting Mr. Softee

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Morning drama at 98 Bowery

The NYPD responded to a report of a distraught woman who had climbed up 98 Bowery. Artist Curt Hoppe, who lives in the building, let the NYPD into his space... from there, they were able to bring the woman down to street level unharmed...

Hoppe complimented the NYPD's quick, professional response. "Thank goodness she's safe," he said.

Friday, September 6, 2013

No Wave Films 1976 - 1985

Our friend Marc H. Miller passes along word about the latest edition to the 98 Bowery website ...


Because the photos were intended as advertisement, they effectively capture the essence of the films; and, in most cases, the filmmakers were themselves involved in the making and selection of the still images. These stills stand on their own, not only as vivid reflections of the films but also of the broader 1970s zeitgeist that the films consciously sought to embody.

Films by Amos Poe ~ Scott B & Beth B ~ Charle Ahearn ~ Richard Kern ~ Gordon Stevenson ~ Eric Mitchell

You can find the galleries here.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Life at 98 Bowery: 1969-1989

Revisiting Punk Art

Friday, April 30, 2010

Looking at "ABC No Rio Dinero: The Story of a Lower East Side Art Gallery"

[Exterior of ABC No Rio's Animals Living in Cities show with dog stencils by Anton Van Dalen, 1980. Photo by Anton Van Dalen]

Marc H. Miller sent along a note to tell me about a major addition to the 98 Bowery Web site ... Indeed.

The previously out-of-print book ABC No Rio Dinero: The Story of a Lower East Side Art Gallery from 1985 is now online. Miller and Alan Moore edited the book.

Here's more about what you'll find from the 200-page book that's now all online ...

With new layouts and color scans, the online version of ABC No Rio Dinero preserves the early history of a pioneer Lower East Side art space that was the unplanned progeny of the "Real Estate Show," an illegal exhibition in an abandoned, city-owned building squatted by artists on New Year’s Eve 1980.

[Outside the "Real Estate Show" at 125 Delancey. Photo by Anne Messner]

Compiling art and articles from the period, sections of the book spotlight Collaborative Projects Inc. (Colab), the Time Square Show, the South Bronx art space Fashion-Moda, Group Material, PADD, and East Village music and art in the 1980s. Amongst the featured artists and writers are young, up-and-comers of the 1980s like Kiki Smith, Tom Otterness, John Ahearn, Tim Rollins, Walter Robinson, Jeffrey Deitch, and Bob Holman; the No Rio stalwarts Becky Howland, Bobby G, Peter Cramer and Jack Waters; photographers Martha Cooper, Lisa Kahane, and Tom Warren; and established voices like Lucy Lippard, and -- in a poetry section edited by Josh Gosciak -- Amiri Baraka, Miguel Pinero

[ABC No Rio at night during the Tube World exhibition. Photo by Jody Culkin]

The photo below is from the Crime Show, from Jan. 15-Feb. 6, 1982. According to the book: "The Crime Show, organized by John Spencer, had the biggest crowd of any opening, perhaps an indication of the relevance of the theme. For years, the economy of the Lower East Side was to a great extent based upon organized crime -- the sale of drugs, and illicit industry involving entire families in its wide range of tasks. Crime of all kinds in the neighborhood remains high. One artist experienced this first-hand on her way home from an opening when she was mugged in the subway. It is probably safe to say that every artist on the Lower East Side knows someone who has been mugged or robbed. Household burglaries are endemic, as the heavy gates on neighborhood windows testify."

[Photo by Harvey Wang]

The book also includes the orignal ads... "The ABC No Rio book was a labor of love mostly pushed by volunteer labor. Along the way a few small grants paid for typesetting, veloxes and other preparatory material. However, as the book neared completion a daunting financial reality confronted us: we needed a substantial sum to get the 200-page book printed. The solution was advertisements placed in the back of the book. Bettie Ringma volunteered to be our ad representative and quickly discovered receptive clients among the galleries representing No Rio artists and the many fledgling businesses betting their fortunes on the emergence of the East Village as a trendy art center. Today these advertisements gathered in 1985 are a time capsule of the first moments in the careers of up-and-coming artists and of some of the early hot spots of the short-lived East Village art scene."

Here are a sampling of the ads:

As Marc says, the ABC No Rio art space is still going strong today, maintaining a commitment to an interactive aesthetic that mixes art, politics and community.

And as you know, ABC Rio will soon begin construction of a new facility.

Find the whole ABC Rio book here.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Life at 98 Bowery: 1969-1989

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A chance to see some 'Downtown Art Ephemera'

Marc H. Miller is curating a short, two-week exhibit titled "Downtown Art Ephemera, 1970s-1990s," which runs through July 25 at the James Fuentes Gallery, 55 Delancey St. between Allen and Eldridge.

There's a reception today from 5-7 p.m., which provides a good opportunity to see some of the 150 cards and posters from Miller's online Gallery 98 collection.

Per a release on the exhibit:

All the downtown New York art stars of that time are represented ... : Basquiat, Goldin, Haring, Holzer, Hujar, Koons, Mapplethorpe, Piper, Prince, Schnabel, Smith, Sherman, Warhol, Wojnarowicz etc. Sections on Collaborative Projects Inc. (COLAB), Fashion Moda, the Rivington School, Fun Gallery, International with Monument, and Mary Boone Gallery will chronicle a lively and contradictory period when art, commerce, branding, populist politics and issues of identity were all part of the mix.

Miller discusses the exhibit in an article at Vice.

Images via online Gallery 98

Previously on EV Grieve:
Life at 98 Bowery: 1969-1989

Revisiting Punk Art

Friday, February 13, 2015

EV Grieve Etc.: Mourning Edition

A look at Ash Thayer's book "Kill City: Lower East Side Squatters 1992-2000" (The Link)

Bowery Mission names new president and CEO (The Lo-Down)

Woman punched at Katz's for standing too close in line (DNAinfo)

Manny Cantor Center hosting a Survey of Working Artists on the Lower East Side (BoweryBoogie)

Art and ephemera connected to No Wave Film, 1976-1985 (98 Bowery)

Police looking for suspect in mugging on Essex and Hester (PIX 11)

An oral history of CBGB (Medium/Cuepoint)

A winter view of the Depression-era East River (Ephemeral New York)

"When you look at all the reasons why New York City has left such an indelible mark on the world, it ultimately has precious fuck-all to do with having been born here." (Flaming Pablum)

Q-and-A with John Waste of Urban Waste (Noisey/Vice)

Red Velvet Oreo Ice Cream coming to Davey's on First Avenue this weekend (Grub Street)

Update on residential conversion of 41 Great Jones (Curbed)

In case you wanted Andy Warhol-inspired Chuck Taylors (Tasting Table)

A surprising trip to Foley's on West 33rd Street (Jeremiah's Vanishing New York)

Cops keeping surveillance on Washington Square Park visitors in real time (Washington Square Park Blog)

For your Valentine's Day: EVG's favorite love songs, sort of (Stupefaction)

... and "Law and Order: SVU" was back in the neighborhood filming this week, including at First Houses on East Third Street between Avenue A and First Avenue...

[Photo by Yenta Laureate]

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

East Village history, now more interactive

[Click to enlarge]

Marc H. Miller told us yesterday about his new website for the comic-style pictorial maps that he has published at Ephemera Press since 2001. The East Village map now has a new scroll-over effect ... (Look at the site here to figure out what we're talking about...)

Illustrators James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook created the original East Village map, which features a walking-tour guide to the neighborhood's historic sites. The itinerary includes 68 East Village spots, each briefly described, and located on a secondary map specifically designed for those visiting the area. (Those who care about the history and not the bars...) For instance, the map lists all six addresses that Alan Ginsberg had in the neighborhood... as well as the location of Andy Warhol's first New York apartment on Avenue A ... among many other notable addresses...

Miller also has maps for other parts of the city, such as the Harlem Renaissance and Queens Jazz Trail, both illustrated by Tony Millionaire.

For further reading on EV Grieve about Marc H. Miller:
Life at 98 Bowery: 1969-1989

Revisiting Punk Art

Saturday, April 25, 2020

EVG Etc.: Recovering from COVID-19; taking aim at third-party delivery fees

[St. Mark's Place at 3rd Avenue]

• East Village resident Majorie Ingall on the recovery from COVID-19 (Tablet)

• Remembering downtown star — and East Village resident — Nashom Wooden (Popular Publicity ... previously on EVG)

• Jimmy Webb's love for NYC and tight pants (The New Yorker ... previously on EVG)

• The fruit cart returns to First Avenue just north of 14th Street (Town & Village)

• The Department of Transportation and the NYPD not into converting roadways into public space for coronavirus-crammed New Yorkers (Streetsblog)

• Thoughts on the shuttered Starbucks on First Avenue and Third Street and what the neighborhood might look like post pandemic (Jeremiah's Vanishing New York)

• Amelia and Christo, the red-tailed hawks of Tompkins Square Park, are well — AND PLEASE DON'T USE A DRONE TO TAKE PHOTOS OF THEIR NEST (Laura Goggin Photography)

• NYC rents remain high — for now (Curbed)

• New York state is facing a $13.3 billion budget shortfall (Gothamist)

• City Council is taking up a series of bills on April 29 that could introduce a stricter fee cap on third-party delivery services (Eater)

• Via the EVG inbox: Citywide music performance of "For Our Courageous Workers" planned April 29 at the 7 p.m. cheer for front-line workers (Tenth Intervention)

• Take a look around the 98 Bowery archives (Official site)

• The Hester Street Fair goes virtual (Vogue)

... and East Village-based artist-actor Robert Galinsky recently launched a 30-minute talk-variety show that streams live Monday through Friday at 10 p.m. on Upcoming guests include Tony winner Maryann Plunkett and documentarian Clayton Patterson.