Thursday, June 29

The Downtown Show: The New York Art Scene, 1974-1984

"First, let’s get the nostalgia out of the way. Sure, the bands were great, and if you were lucky enough to play in one, the clothes were great too. But if the young, wild, and barely employed could afford to live, make art, and party hard between Canal and 14th Streets in the mid- to late-seventies, it was for the same socio-economic reasons that govern affordability, or the lack of it, anywhere. Except for a few oases like the Ukrainian enclave around East 6th Street, the area that spawned the Downtown scene was blighted by poverty, unemployment, drugs, prostitution, homelessness, arson, and street crime; or it was simply bleak. New York City itself seemed a place without a future, battered by blackouts, riots, serial killings, and the onset of AIDS. The migration of industrial jobs to low-wage regions of the South and the subsequent flight of its middle and working classes eroded the city’s tax base and, coupled with the collapse of the financial markets, catapulted it toward bankruptcy. ..."
Brooklyn Rail
ArtForum: Scene Spirit
NY Times: The Downtown Scene, When It Was Still Dirty
Austin Chronicle