It was very gratifying this week to see well-deserved press attention for two of the artists who generously granted me copyrights to use their work in the color plates centerfold of Art on the Block.
Congratulations to both Loren Munk for the dynamite double spread of his work The East Village Scene up through September 7th at Freight + Volume and exuberantly reviewed by Jerry Saltz in New York Magazine:
And to Charlie Ahearn for the New York Times coverage of his new documentary Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer:
Both Loren and Charlie responded enthusiastically to my research and have been generous donors to the final Art on the Block end result. Truth be told, each of them have both the personal experience and the background knowledge to have written this book themselves.
Loren Munk, (also known as James Kalm – his nom de plume as a long time contributor to the Brooklyn Rail), is quoted at several points in my Williamsburg chapters. On the scene, around the shows and always with a point of view, Kalm's archives already afford valuable historical material on the Brooklyn scene throughout both its infancy and its heyday.
Munk's activities as 'The Guy on the Bike" are also covered and his bushwhacking role as a videographer of gallery opening nights long before he could upload his footage to YouTube are described.
Always generous in making his work available to curators of group shows, I've studied Munk's work (literally, up close with note book in hand) in a variety of exhibitions. For this stunner below I have Loren and Lesley Heller Workspace to thank. Lesley's history as a dealer is documented up through her arrival in the Orchard Street cluster in 2010 and so I thought it fitting to choose The Bowery and the Lower East Side from amongst the many possibilities Loren's encyclopedic range affords.
Charlie Ahearn is, of course, a legend in his own right and has been revered amongst filmmakers since his still-riveting-to-watch Wild Style of 1983. Although Wild Style was based around the street art and music scene in the South Bronx in the early 1980s, Ahearn's footage includes some breathtakingly good shots of the City's subway trains that graffiti writers like Fab Five Freddy, Dondi and Zephyr had bombed and which, once tagged with their brash urban iconography, would travel across the five boroughs of New York City. Charlie gave me two images for Art on the Block – Campbell Soup Train, 1980 – painting by Fab Five Freddy and photograph by Ahearn –
And Heroin Kills, 1981 by Dondi Zephyr Charlie A.
Wild Style can be downloaded easily and includes footage of many of the players that I describe in my East Village sections of the book – including Fab Five Freddy himself and the Fun Gallery's fabulously glam Patti Astor.
Listen to Ahearn describe the art world/ street vibe overlap back in those dark days of New York City's economic and social low point at: