“Come Closer” is an exhibition that takes the Bowery as subject, site, and center for creative ingenuity in the 1970s and 1980s.
Marcia Resnick, Untitled from “Canyon Curb Piece,” 1974. Black-and-white photograph, 11 × 14 in (27.9 × 35.5 cm). Courtesy Marcia Resnick
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Drawing upon the New Museum’s Bowery Artist Tribute archive and the online archive of Marc H. Miller, 98bowery.com, this exhibition features original artwork, ephemera, and performance documentation by over fifteen artists who lived and worked on or near the Bowery in New York.
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.
Propelled by this nourished, insurgent spirit, many artists downtown turned their attention towards the Bowery, inviting a re-examination of this neglected zone through their works: subjective, deeply personal portraits documented points of sympathy between neighbors; unsanctioned public art marked territory and adjusted the landscape; and DIY and collective practices pushed generations of institutional rigidity aside for a diversification of materials, gestures, and voices. As this influx of artists helped shaped the Bowery, the neighborhood helped shape generations of artists.
This exhibition will include works by artists including Barbara Ess, Coleen Fitzgibbon, Keith Haring, John Holmstrom, Curt Hoppe, Colette Lumiere, Marc H. 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, Anton van Dalen, Arturo Vega, Robin Winters, and Martin Wong.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the New Museum will publish the third volume of the Bowery Artist Tribute publication. Both a celebration and exploration of the Museum’s neighborhood, the Bowery Artist Tribute is a vibrant resource for visitors and neighbors to tap into the history of the neighborhood, its creative residents, and their contributions to contemporary culture.
“Come Closer: Art Around the Bowery, 1969–1989” is curated by Ethan Swan, Education Associate.