Five Week Convergence of Visual Art, Photography, Film, Poetry, Music & Fashion Debuts at
Woodbury’s Newest Gallery May 6 – June 3
Some of the finest visual, sonic, and spoken word art to emerge from New York’s Lower East Side is coming to Connecticut with the debut of “We Are Here Now, Hidden in Plain Sight 1978-2023,” a dynamic multi-media exhibit opening May 6 at Studio Hill Gallery, Woodbury’s newest destination.
Curated and hosted by filmmaker Nancy August, this show celebrates the boundless creativity birthed in one of the most important districts in the history of American arts and culture: the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It will feature painting, sculpture, photography, film, and fashion as well as live musical performances and poetry readings over five weeks – work representing the creativity of 20 diverse artists. The event at Studio Hill Gallery is the debut of this exhibit, which is slated to travel to New York City and other destinations beginning in the fall of 2023. A current Connecticut resident who lived on the Lower East Side for two decades, Ms. August is presently at work on a feature-length documentary about this fertile art scene, both with the stars that emerged in the ‘70s to those who still live and work in the neighborhood today.
Emblematic of the counterculture, radical political and social constructs, and boundary traversing free thought, New York City’s hallowed East Village built its unique aura as an eclectic hub of creativity which affected a global reach that continues to reverberate. A veritable valley in the Manhattan skyline, the neighborhood (east of the Bowery and 3rd Avenue, between 14th Street on the north and Houston Street on the south) which was once home to icons of artistic innovation spanning Jean-Michel Basquiat,
Keith Haring, Pa` Smith, Allen Ginsburg, Lou Reed, Cindy Sherman, Jim Carroll, Julian Schnabel, Jeff Koons, Sam Shepard, The Ramones, Blondie, and Sonic Youth to cite a very, very select few have changed dramatically in the 21st Century.
While economic realities (ie. Gentrification) of the past quarter-century has forced many artists to exit to Lower East Side for more affordable NYC neighborhoods and far-flung cities, there remains a stubborn, tight-knit community that continues to live and work here. Some of the best of these are included in this exhibition.
Participating artists and photographers include:
Walter Steding – A native of Harmony, Pennsylvania, Walter Steding was both a noted musician and visual artist. He made his musical debut as a one-man band opening for CBGB bands including Blondie, Suicide, and The Ramones. His music video for his tune “Secret Spy” was produced by Chris Stein of Blondie and was one of the first videos on MTV. During the 80s, he worked as a painting assistant for Andy Warhol, who eventually became a producer of his music, just like the Velvet Underground. He recorded on violin with artists including David Byrne, Robert Fripp, and Jim Carroll. Steding was also a very talented painter whose work is sure to be a highlight of the exhibit.
Christopher Hart Chambers – Christopher Hart Chambers has been active on the NYC art scene since he was a student at the High School for Art and Music. The B.A.D. Museum on the Bowery was the vehicle that established his presence in the fertile New York City art scene of the 80s. His prolific collection of abstract paintings, sculptures, and bas-reliefs has been featured in many galleries throughout New York and beyond. He is credited with being the first to wheat paste original artworks in the streets which has since become an international phenomenon of street art.
Ben Keller – A painter from a very young age, Ben Keller’s work has evolved over the years from the works of his teen years, ones influenced by infamous graffiti artist Barry McGee, to the large nature-influenced mural works of today, one which can be enjoyed in NYC, Connecticut, and surrounding areas.
Rodney Paderson -- As you walk down East 4th St you see the magical hat shop of designer Rodney Paderson. A long-time Lower East Side resident whose designs thrive off the energy of the street, his hats are works of art. Since founding the brand Esenshel in 2015, Paderson’s hats have traveled the world and have been worn by celebrities including Lizzo, Billy Porter, June Ambrose, Rihanna, and many more. He has been featured in Vogue, Elle, WWD, and numerous other fashion magazines.
Linus Coraggio – A NYC native graduate of Music and Art High School and a leader in the New York street art scene of the 80s. Coraggio first began showing his sculpture in group exhibits, some of which he curated at spaces like ABC No Rio while studying for his BFA at SUNY Purchase. It was during this time that he invented a genre of street art called “3-D Graffiti” – welded, graffitied constructions bolted onto “No Parking” signs in New York and other major cities. After graduation, Coraggio formed and galvanized a sculpture group known as the “Rivington School,” a collective that created massive junk sculpture installations on the Lower East Side beginning in 1985. This included the infamous Gas Station/Space 2B—his sprawling scrap metal studio of 10 years in a former gas station
on 2nd St. and Ave B. Linus still works and lives in NYC doing commissions and creating new welded abstract and figurative sculptures as well as one-of-a-kind metal furniture. Linus’ work is sought after and he shows worldwide.
JOff WilsOn – The musician behind SoulCake is also an abstract artist who uses a mix of oil and acrylic paint and found and broken items, like guitars, boards, and drum heads, on his over-the-top canvases.
Daniel Root – Moved to East 7th St. in 1984, and he began the landscapes of the neighborhood. MTV was in its early day and Daniel began gepng booked by MTV to shoot all the bands. In his book “Daniel Root Gimme 5 Minutes,” Jason Trucco’s forward says it best” Daniel Roots’ images of ambiKous Rockers introduced a cast of 20th century Pop Culture” All of Daniel's photos have been published countless times, Madonna, Frank Zappa, Talking Heads, Ann Magnusson, Duran Duran to name a few. Many of these a so much more will be featured in the show.
Brian Rose – Born in Virginia, Brian Rose moved to NYC in 1978 to aQend Cooper Union, where he studied with notables like renowned photographers Joel Meyerowitz and Larry Fink. Securing an apartment on East 4th St for $50 a month, he began photographing the city to create several books including the critically-acclaimed Time and Space on the Lower East Side. Suzanne Vega wrote the tune “Tom’s Diner,” which is about her friend Brian and how he saw the world through his lens. Photos from this collection and other works will be featured in the show.
Peter Benned – Peter Benned was born and raised in NYC. He moved to the Lower East Side in 1981 and began photographing life around him. At that time little did he realize he was shooting some of the most reproduced photographs of the day. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Time Magazine, Sierra, and many others. In 2021, Benned published his seventh book, Los Angeles River, and is planning a book chronicling his time in the Lower East Side in the ’80s.
Vincent Giarrano – Vincent Giarrano’s experience as an illustrator for D.C. Comics strongly informs his fine artwork, most notably his project New York Narrative. This work tells the story of real places and real people while creating an intimate dialogue between the paintings and the observers. Throughout it, the artist has garnered a reputation for realistic cityscapes, specifically NYC’s Lower East Side for which he holds a deep affection, and influences much of his work, something which is also communicated in his slice-of-life paintings.
Raken Leaves – A Detroit native, Raken received a BFA in sculpture, welding, and weaving and helped create the performance/art group “The Motor City Free Arts” in the 1970s. Upon moving to the Lower East Side in the 1980s, she met her husband Julius one night at Club 57. They became a driving force in the Lower East side Art scene. Raken was part of the women artists of the famed Rivington School. She worked in organic mediums. Raken is known for her Leather Faces which she will be showing here. She has exhibited in numerous group shows and shared a 38-year retrospective 2-man show with Julius Klein showcasing their work from the early 80's to the present day, at Gallery 222.
Julius Klein – Born and raised in Chicago, Klein is a multi-genre artist who formed some notable bands, including Default, Pirates of Tech-No Hell, and Vacuum Bag, since moving to NYC in 1981. He founded the notable “XOXO” art space. As a teen, he started painting large-scale, outdoor murals in Chicago. His work is in the collection of many, including MoMA. NYC has been his home since Sept 1981. He was a major performer at the infamous Club 57.
Carrie Beehan – Beehan is a performance artist, painter, and musician who resides on the Lower East Side. Her creative style combines paint, music, multi-media art, performance, and video. Her work has been included in the New Museum, Art Gallery for Children (GUD), Czech Center Prague, TINA B Contemporary Arts Festival Prague, the Fountain Art Fair at the New York Armory, and many more. She has exhibited and/or performed at the Queens Museum of Art, Lincoln Center Summer Stage, Berlin’s Chameleon Theater, The HOWL Festival in New York, and the Figment Festivals.
Christos Farantatos – Farantatos’ art has been inspired by his relationships with his maternal grandmother and the teachers who encouraged him to create his abstract works. Christos cut his artistic teeth on the streets of NYC in the late 70s by painting on subway cars and buildings. In the 80s, his artistic creation took off exponentially with showings in galleries such as Green Street Gallery in SOHO, the Fun Gallery Shows in Greenwich Village, and Times Square Art Shows.
Maggie Wrigley – is a writer, artist, and activist who was born in Brisbane, Australia, and came to New York City in 1984. She tells stories with words, photos, debris, artifacts, and the best of her memory. She’s a bitch at the door. She is a contributor and co-editor of The Architecture of Change: Building a Better World and works with ABC No Rio and the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space. She is a curator and co-owner of the gallery at Bullet Space on the Lower East Side, where she has lived since squapng there in 1987.
Chris Parker – Chris Parker has been one of music’s most in-demand drummers since the ’70s. He has worked with a legion of luminaries including Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Paul Butterfield, James Brown, Donald Fagen, and The Saturday Night Live band, and was a co-founder of the superstar session band, Stuff. His other distinct talent is as a watercolorist who composes works featuring the world around him and his famous musical collaborators.
Noble Dre*Ali – This Bronx artist was inspired by the muralists and street artists from the early ’80s. He considers his work “spiritual pop art” by utilizing pop culture imagery and infusing it with spiritual symbolism. Noble’s work draws from history, ancient civilizations, comic books, mythology, science fiction, music, and religion to create a harmony between juxtaposed ideology and imagery. Since 2019, he has collaborated with organizations including the New York Botanical Gardens to bring free art and artistic opportunities to the Bronx community through mural projects, workshops, and more. His Murals can be seen all around NYC
Puma Perl - Puma Perl is a renowned poet, writer, performer, journalist, photographer, and producer. She is the author of two chapbooks, Ruby True and Belinda and Her Friends, and three full-length poetry collections knuckle tatoos, Retrograde, and Birthdays Before and After. In 2016, she received the Acker Award in the category of Writing, and in 2021, an artist-in-residence at HOWL Happening! She will be performing readings solo and with her band Puma Perl and friends at the event's opening.
Taryn Nycek -- Taryn Nycek’s love of vintage motorcycles and cars was the springboard to creating her “moto- artworks.” Her formal art education gave her the tools to fall back on when conceptualizing her unique series, “A Leak Can Speak” – where she placed canvas under the very leaking vintage bikes and collected the drippings, which she used to prep the canvases. Her love of NYC’s Lower East Side has also inspired her to create more realisKc and representative artworks of the area, including the iconic establishments and people of the 1980s.
Angel Quinonez -is a Puerto Rican-American Contemporary Painter, Sculptor, and Tatoo Artist. He is known for his paintings, and large-scale multi-media public works that can be seen on the streets of Providence, Rhode Island, Austin, Texas, New York City, and various other locations throughout New England. His professional career includes work with various local community, and arts organizations in Providence, Austin, NYC, Charlotte, North Carolina, Martha’s Vineyard, and South America. Including AS220, Big Nazo, and Progreso Latino, Which included heading the Art Program at the Rhode Island Training School and working with incarcerated youth. He also worked as an Art instructor at Featherstone Center for the Arts on Martha’s Vineyard. In NYC worked at Black Ink Tatoo Studio, featured on the VH1 television on the show Black Ink Crew.
Ross Bennet Lewis - NYC resident located East of Tompkins Square Park since 1985. Best known for black & white photography published in several hardcover books, catalogs, and online blogs and articles including some auction history. Have found photographing people to be the most challenging yet rewarding Including but not limited to artists, poets, and performers. His black and white photos of Quentin Crisp, John Giorno, Willem Dafoe, and other characters from the Lower East side are just a few of the remarkable photographs of Ross.
Nancy August and Shane Arbs, the filmmakers
Nancy and Shane have spent the last 5 months interviewing and documenting the artists, musicians, poets designers, publishers, and photographers. These are the people who created the scene. We learn the history of the time from those who lived it firsthand. Pop culture would never be the same! This film will be streamed throughout the show as well as other films shot by independent filmmakers from the day.
Opening Performances by:
Puma Perl and friends- A staple of the downtown music scene, legendary poet and spoken word artist, Puma Perl along with guitarist, Joe Sztabnik and drummer Dave Donen. How lucky they are traveling above 14th St to entertain at our opening.
SoulCake – SoulCake is the latest vehicle of longtime Lower East Side musician, actor, and artist JOff WilsOn. His roots in the East Village music scene go back decades. JOff has played guitar with icons including poet/rocker Jim Carroll, David Peel, and the Lower East Side. He opened for notables like The Ramones with his earlier bands, The Bowery Boys, Irthlings, and The Fugitives. Performing live at the Gallery opening with the other members of Soulcake, Sarah Fendley and Laura Sativa
“There were many different artistic circles spinning in relation to one another, sometimes overlapping, but sometimes not. But we all inhabited that space, that gloriously decrepit neighborhood with all its dangers and endless possibilities.” Brian Rose
Studio Hill Gallery 507 Main St S, Woodbury, CT 06798 (203) 405-6500 www.studiohillct.com
Contact: Nancy August (914) firstname.lastname@example.org Nadine Cascini (203) email@example.com