As Edmund White notes in T’s Fall Men’s issue, our current culture is fascinated by the late ’70s and early ’80s in New York, a period when the city was veering toward financial ruin and downtown looked like a war zone. “The was a reason there was a bar downtown called Downtown Beirut,” says the curator Lauren Miller Walsh. But downtown New York was where artists, actors, musicians and playwrights could afford to live and work, forming a vibrant artistic community.
To commemorate that intensely creative scene, Miller Walsh has curated a number of artworks, photographs and ephemera that will be on display at Rare/Glenn Horowitz Bookseller in New York this fall, starting today. Her inspiration for the show was a monumental portfolio of photos, originally assembled for MoMA PS1’s influential “New York New Wave” show in 1981, and recently acquired by Glenn Horowitz. The photos depict icons of the era: Debbie Harry, Divine, Rene Ricard and Joey Ramone, to name a few. Miller Walsh also mined the archive of the East Village Eye, a monthly avant-garde magazine that was published from 1979 through 1987. Collectively, the show feels like an intimate scrapbook of the Downtown Decade, when a city in ruin hosted a riot of artistic cross-pollination unlike any other time in recent history.
“The Downtown Decade: NYC 1975 – 1985” is on view Sept. 10 – Oct. 10, 2015, at Rare/Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, 17 West 54th St., ground floor, New York, glennhorowitz.com.