Richard Price Talks About the Lower East Side

Posted on: June 30th, 2010 at 6:22 am by

As previously reported, a smattering of local art houses across the Lower East Side are reinterpreting the neighborhood-specific Lush Life chapter by chapter.  The gallery exhibitions pretty much run through mid to late August.  And author Richard Price is capitalizing on all the recent press.

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Indeed, Price recently spoke with Artinfo about his pursuits, the gallery hop, and the neighborhood inspirations.  Herewith, some choice excerpts:

So I went down on this walking tour and what I saw was more of the same, advanced. And at the same time I saw stuff that gentrification will never touch. It’s pretty much the same, a couple more high rises than before. But, you know, by the nature of the neighborhood you can’t really do all that much to it. Except tear everything down that is six stories high and replace it with bigger buildings, but working within the buildings you can’t do that much because they were built the way they were built.

And…

Yeah, that was the tail end. It got a lot more dangerous in the 1970s and 1980s and 1990s, I guess until Giuliani took over the police department. It just descended into hard drugs, and it was always poor down there but then poor became violent, and poor became sort of drug mercenary. But, you know, there was always a beatnik presence down there, but I can’t imagine anybody walking on Ludlow Street in, say, 1976 and saying, “Oh man I gotta buy something here, this is going to be worth a lot of money.” I mean, there were lines going around the block to buy heroin in an apartment that today probably sells for about $2 million.

And the bitter truth…

Most artists I know can’t afford to live down there. Most artists who I know started moving out to Williamsburg and then when they couldn’t afford that started moving further out in Brooklyn. But the pattern is that the artists comes and the realtors come in and they jack up the rent based on the cachet given to it by the artists, and then the artists who gave it the cachet have to move out and the real-estate guys follow them there and they have to move out again and pretty soon everybody is living in the Atlantic Ocean.

[via EV Grieve]

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