Of all the recent sweeping changes to the New York City landscape, the Bowery has had one of the most startling transformations. But before the brunch spots and luxury condos, it was long known as a dilapidated haven for artists of all kinds.
Now the New Museum and its ongoing Bowery Artist Tribute project are highlighting the works that came from these conditions during the drug-infested '70s and '80s in Come Closer: Art Around the Bowery, 1969-1989.
Artwork, ephemera, films and performance documentation by the likes of Keith Haring, Dee Dee and Joey Ramone, Adam Purple, Coleen Fitzgibbon and Arturo Vega represent how wild creativity thrived from the open and squalid space, the lack of authority and a support system of freethinking neighbors.
Although the Bowery has also been home to mid-century greats like Mark Rothko and Roy Lichtenstein, the museum chose this less-represented era--working in conjunction with art historian Marc H. Miller’s online archive, 98bowery.com--to relive a time many local residents remember fondly.
The neighborhood may never be the same without CBGB, but at least its gritty influence lives on.
Runs through January 6; 235 Bowery (at Prince St.); 212-219-1222 or newmuseum.org