This week, Parsons and NYU’s Grey Art Gallery and Fales Library open intertwined exhibitions on the same subject: the world that existed south of 14th between 1974 and 1984. They chart the change from “Anarchy to Affluence.” What’s left of this mythic, scuzzy metropolis? Not much. But there are still traces. A walking tour (with little risk of being mugged) through the old neighborhood:
Start at what used to be (1) Max’s Kansas City (213 Park Avenue South). Where Abstract Expressionists once paid for their drinks with art, Suicide’s Alan Vega ended up beating himself with a microphone. It closed in 1982. Then walk south to an empty storefront at 229 East 11th Street, once home to (2) Patti Astor’s Fun Gallery. The idea was to change the gallery’s name for each show, but Kenny Scharf’s “Fun Gallery” stuck after his first exhibit. Then head to the longtime home of Punk magazine’s co-founder, (3) John Holmstrom, at 219 East 10th. He used to hang out at (4) Paul’s Lounge, the punk’s pub at 46 Third Avenue, now a Hollywood Video (Johnny Ramone’s apartment was around the corner, with Joey Ramone’s only one block south).
Enter St. Marks Place, where you find (5) Trash and Vaudeville, official punk outfitter to Iggy Pop, still holding out at No. 4. (6) The New Cinema, in a storefront at No. 12, showed artists’ Super 8 films. No. 54 was home to one iteration of the (7) Gracie Mansion Gallery (Rodney Alan Greenblat, David Wojnarowicz, Stephen Lack). Ann Magnuson’s (8) Club 57 occupied the basement of the Holy Cross Polish National Church. Keith Haring and Scharf decorated it, and the parishioners were scared. (Its clergyman reportedly told them, “This is exactly where evil people belong—in a church.”) It closed in 1983. Farther into the East Village you find, down at 101 Avenue A, that the (9) Pyramid Club, center of drag-queen culture in the early eighties, remains tepidly open. Ramones “creative director” (10) Arturo Vega’s loft, at 6 East 2nd Street, takes you back toward the Bowery, where (11) CBGB remains until this Halloween.
Then into Soho, where Tina Girouard and Gordon Matta-Clark founded (12) Food Restaurant, at 129 Prince, charging $5 for a meal. It’s currently the flagship Baby Phat store. (13) Stephen Sprouse’s store full of hand-graffitied fashions was at 99 Wooster. (14) The Kitchen was at 484 Broome (now in West Chelsea), a performance space for Bill T. Jones, Eric Bogosian, and Sonic Youth. In the wilds of Tribeca, there was (15) Franklin Furnace, at 112 Franklin, which started out as a store for artists’ books in 1976, before becoming Laurie Anderson’s home stage. Today it’s moved to Brooklyn. Finally, the (16) Mudd Club, at 77 White. Opened on Halloween in ’78, it was conceived as an anti-fabulous Studio 54, embracing anything from Haring’s “Drawing Show” to Afrika Bambaataa. Artist Ross Bleckner bought the building in 1983 for $450,000 and resold it in 2004 for $5 million.