zaterdag 1 mei 2010

Beyond Words (1981)

In April 1981 Fab 5 Freddy curated an exhibition with Keith Haring and Futura 2000 in the Mudd Club called "Beyond Words: Graffiti Based-Rooted-Inspired Works". At the opening he brought in the Cold Crush Brothers, Fantastic Freaks and Bambaataa's Jazzy Five MC's to perform. This is claimed to be the first time Downtown and Uptown were brought together.

One month later Freddy was booked on Henry Chalfant's "Graffiti Rock" performance with Rock Steady Crew at Common Ground gallery in SoHo (not to be confused with Holman's Graffiti Rock TV show pilot). That show was cancelled due to violence, but was rescheduled in October 1981 at another venue called "The Kitchen".

Here Fab 5 is talking about the Beyond Words show and his meeting with Keith Haring.

Patti Astor's FUN Gallery

Patti Astor describes her and Fab 5 Freddy as "the queen from Downtown meets the king of Uptown" and "the artworld would never be the same". You might know her as the lady ('Virginia') from Wild Style. Astor went on to co-found the FUN Gallery in early 1981 with partner Bill Stelling. This tenement storefront gallery, was the first of the 1980s East Village galleries, and specialised in showing graffiti artists, like Fab 5 Freddy, LEE (Quinones), Zephyr, Dondi, Lady Pink, and Futura 2000. It also gave important shows to Kenny Scharf (in 1981), Jean Michel Basquiat (November 1982), and Keith Haring (February, 1983), artists with a street background who showed elsewhere.

For a while the mix of worlds was unique, with the FUN crew of downtown artists and hipsters, beat-boys, rock, movie and rap stars mixing with both neighborhood kids and the official art world: museum directors, art historians and uptown collectors in their mink coats and limos. The gallery closed in 1985, by which time many other East Village galleries had opened, the interest in graffiti painters in the art world has subsided, and rents in the East Village were rising dramatically.

Check out her mini bio documentary:

Glenn O’Brien's TV Party

The cable TV show where all the usual suspects hung out, hosted by Glenn O'Brien former editor at Andy Warhol's Interview and music journalist so he was very well connected in the art and music scene. Glen and TV Party were Fab 5 Freddy's ticket into the Downtown scene. In this excellent interview he recalls:

I reached out to Glenn O’Brien, who was doing a music column in the magazine called “Glenn O’Brien’s Beat.” I loved the way he wrote about all different kinds of music—funk, reggae, new wave, and punk. I wanted to interview him for my college radio station. I was attending Medgar Evers College [of The City University of New York] for a short period. So that’s how I met him, and Glenn told me he was going to do a public-access TV show called TV Party. He said he wanted to have me on as a guest, because at that time I was also telling him about the beginning of hip-hop music—rap music, if you will, because at the time it really wasn’t known as hip-hop. And I was also telling him about graffiti and that I had been a graffiti artist and was interested in moving into the art world. I told Glenn, “I’d love to be a cameraman on your show.” He said, “Fred, you’ve never done that before. You can’t be the cameraman, but I’d love to have you come by and be a guest on the show.” When I showed up for the first episode, the guy who was supposed to operate one of the two cameras wasn’t there. Glenn looked at me and said, “Fred, get on that camera.” [laughs] I became one of the show’s cameramen and a regular guest. That was the beginning of my friendship with Glenn and many of the cool people that I would meet.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Basquiat is one of the key figures as he, Michael Holman and Fab 5 Freddy brought a different dynamic to the mostly white, navel-gazing Downtown scene. Downtown 81 was directed by Glen o'Brien and as it features all the protagonists of the time it is essential viewing.

Downtown 81

The Radiant Child has rare interview footage and offers perspectives by his contemporaries.

No Wave

Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and music journalist Byron Coley talk about the (mainly photo) book No Wave: Post-Punk. Underground, remembering the Downtown times.

New York. 1976-1980

The Mudd Club

Those who made it in found a narrow, shadowy room, a flickering strobe and a D.J. who might swing from funk to punk to junk in the space of three tracks. There was an alarming-looking cage, and sometimes the electric rolling gate at the end of the room would ease up to reveal a band (one of the first was the B-52's). Though it was Mass's $15,000 that got the Mudd Club open, it was Phillips and "curator-at-large" Diego Cortez who shaped its personality. They made Mudd an antidisco manifesto, hijacking the glittering totems of uptown exclusivity -- from velvet rope to V.I.P. room -- and dumping them in the dingy Lower East Side dive.

"New York was elegant and sleazy," he says. "Now it's a shopping mall for dot-commers. We need our crime rate back. I want my muggers and hookers back."

Read more about the club in this NYT article Mudd Quake

Architect of the Mudd Club Diego Cortez explains about the No Wave scene's exhibition New York \New Wave PS 1 in Queens, 1981

Frank Zappa's tribute to the club (1980)