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Recap: “Our Ladies of Infamy and Grandeur” at Fourth Arts Block
The East Village boasts more than a few creative saints as well as some ladies of infamy…and now a few of them are immortalized on East 4th Street. Last week, we attended the Fourth Arts Block (FABnyc) opening of “Our Ladies of Infamy and Grandeur,” an exhibit of gilded paintings by Graham Preston. The works, which are currently on display at the FAB Cafe, honor “the exploits, undertakings and legends of lost cultural heroines from the historical Five Points Neighborhood.”
A huge crowd turned out for one of the few not-sweltering evenings, with folks spilling onto much of East 4th Street.
Preston came up with the concept while talking with his friend and mentor, the artist Tom Sanford. Sanford, by the way, created the “Saints of the Lower East Side” murals currently on the scaffolding across the street from the cafe. Both exhibits were curated for FABnyc by one of Boogie’s favorite art world locals, Keith Schweitzer. Working with FABnyc and Murals around New York (MaNY), Schweitzer has been arranging legal walls for both street artists and gallery veterans, redefining the conventional definition of an art gallery.
The indoor and outdoor scenes were equally vibrant. After getting an education from Preston inside the cafe about some of the ladies of the Five Points, we went back outside to take another look at “The Saints of the Lower East Side.” General consensus was that the seven “saints” – Martin Wong, Joey Ramone, Miguel Piñero, Ellen Stewart, Charlie Parker, Arthur Fellig (Weegee) and Allen Ginsberg – were strong representatives of the neighborhood’s modern cultural history. Many viewers hoped that the combined exhibits would prompt viewers and passersby to discover – or rediscover – both the neighborhood and these icons.
Along the way, we also got a few cool bits of trivia about “Saints” from curator Schweitzer. In the frame depicting Joey Ramone, above his head are the letters “SWM.” This, we learned, stands for “Stately Wayne Manor,” a fictional punk band that plays CBGB in Jonathan Lethem’s novel “The Fortress of Solitude.” It was also pointed out that in the same panel of Joey, his name appears at the top of his t-shirt on the Ramones logo. The actual logo, designed by punk icon Arturo Vega, has Johnny’s name at the top. (Being die-hard Ramones fans, we were kicking ourselves a bit for not noticing that immediately!)
Both exhibits run through September 5th, 2012.