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.

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