Standing Tall with Curt Hoppe’s ‘Downtown Portraits’

Posted on: May 8th, 2019 at 5:06 am by

Photo courtesy of Bernarducci Gallery.

They’re larger than life. Literally and figuratively.

“They” are the subjects of “Downtown Portraits,” a series of photographs and large-scale paintings by Curt Hoppe, which recently opened at both Howl! Happening and Bernarducci galleries.

Curt Hoppe with his self-portrait. Photo: Elisabeth Bernstein.

This nine-year project depicts artists, writers, musicians, activists and art entrepreneurs who Hoppe befriended when he first came to downtown New York in the mid-1970s, and who remain a close circle of core friends.

Portrait of Arturo Vega. Photo courtesy of Bernarducci Gallery.

“It all started with Arturo,” says Hoppe, referring to his late friend Arturo Vega, the graphic designer and artistic director best known for creating the logo for The Ramones. Vega was the first subject in the “Downtown Portraits” series. By the way, he also was the source of inspiration for Howl! Happening.

Curt Hoppe’s portrait of Robin Winters en route to the gallery. Photo: Robin Winters.

Hoppe has been inspired by the lifelong perseverance and creativity of his subjects. The portraits pay tribute to resilient and creative thinkers who continue to influence our culture.

“I want this exhibition to be forward-looking,” he says. “These artists found a way to survive and to thrive, and their wisdom continues to have a profound impact on today’s culture.”

Curt Hoppe’s portrait of Robin Winters in progress, Photo: Curt Hoppe.

Hoppe’s project is not about vanity, celebrity or self-promotion. Rather, it pays tribute to decades of friendship while tracing the lines between some of the most incredibly creative people of the ’70s, ’80s, and beyond, including John and Charlie Ahearn, Penny Arcade, Patti Astor, Beth B, James Chance, Diego Cortez, Brett DePalma, Jane Dickson, Coleen Fitzgibbon, Richard Hambleton, John Holmstrom, Lady Pink, Arto Lindsay, Colette Lumíère, Tom Otterness, Walter Robinson, Marcia Resnick, and Robin Winters, among others.

Says Hoppe, “We’re cooler now than we were back then. Our lives are on our faces.”

And their lives are on his photographs and canvases.

Much of the group, posing in front of their photos at Howl! Happening. Photo: Yoon.

“Downtown Portraits” is currently on display at both Howl! Happening and the Frank Bernarducci Gallery. Both shows run until May 22.

Recent Stories

NYPD Shut Down Adidas 99-Cent Sneaker Stunt on the Bowery Yesterday After it Turned Violent

Police yesterday morning shut down an out-of-control Bowery pop-up selling a limited-edition sneaker collaboration between adidas and AriZona Iced Tea. The huge crowds were the collective answer to the question, what happens when you sell a rare sneaker for 99 cents? The collaboration yielded two limited-quantity styles – Yung 1 and Continental. Both were available […]

Watch this Brazen Tagger Desecrate Louis Vuitton Logo on Ludlow Street

It’s clear that the locals aren’t too thrilled with the invasive Louis Vuitton pop-up at Ludlow and Rivington Streets. And one brazen tagger proved it. Midday Wednesday, a youngster jumped onto the building’s garbage bin and quickly spray-painted over the company logo. The graffiti lasted for a couple hours before it was buffed away. As […]

Katz’s Adjacent Retail Condo Sells for Record $89M

The hot pastrami sandwich at Katz’s Deli costs $22.95; the ginormous commercial condo in Ben Shaoul’s luxury development next door costs $89 million. Developer Ben Shaoul reportedly sold the retail portion of the building to the AR Global affiliate New York City REIT. Stated sale price is $88.75 million, which makes it the most expensive […]

Man’s Throat Slashed in Barbershop Bloodbath on Stanton Street

A 27-year-old man was slashed inside a barbershop on Stanton Street yesterday morning. The unidentified victim was attacked at about 11:15am while inside First Choice Barbers at 156 Stanton Street. The attacker, 35-year-old Aldo Corniel, slashed the customer in the throat; a third man saved the day by bashing the assailant with a fire extinguisher. […]

Doyers Street ‘Asphalt Art’ Ahead of Chinatown Seasonal Streets Closure

The third annual “Chinatown Seasonal Streets” initiative is upon us. As part of the program, select streets are closed to traffic to create public pedestrian space. The temporary plazas are also decorated with so-called Asphalt Art. Doyers Street had been the pilot, but this year sees the inclusionof a 5,370 square-foot area of Mott Street […]