Revisit Martha Diamond’s ‘Urbanist Art’ and Life on the Bowery Since 1969

Posted on: September 20th, 2021 at 5:03 am by

Martha Diamond

In case you missed Martha Diamond’s show at Magenta Plains on Allen Street back in January, the career-spanning exhibit at the Lower East Side gallery is now online.

For a limited time, visitors to independent.org online viewing room will gain access to not just the past exhibit, but also an overview of Diamond’s career. There’s a retrospective interview and video where Diamond discusses how the Bowery has influenced her art and how the neighborhood has changed over the 50-plus years she’s lived and worked there. She also discusses a seminal piece depicting the World Trade Center that was included in the 1989 Whitney Biennial.

Martha Diamond has referred to herself as a “primitive painter,” which speaks to her lack of formal education in painting techniques. And her painterly brushwork doesn’t immediately seem conducive to cityscapes or skylines, but her depictions of the metropolis over the years has accumulated into a body of work many now consider “urbanist art.”

But regardless of the label or the decade, the lasting allure of Diamond’s paintings is that it is as universal as it is New York-centric. That the buildings depicted are as intimate as they are monolithic, and her work speaks to an idea of a city that’s higher than the debate over past versus present.

Here is an excerpt from that interview:

DC: I knew an artist, Harvey Quaytman, who lived on your street. When I knew him in the 1980s, the Bowery was close to Soho, but it felt so far away. Now, of course, it’s changed completely; the Bowery’s just another gentrified neighborhood.

MD: It was different, then. I mean, the humans were different; the doorways were different; the cars were different

In another interview with ART FORUM,
Diamond said that she spent the Covid shutdown “lifting weights on her roof and making paintings of Stuyvesant Town, where my family once lived when I was young.”

Despite massive changes to the city and her downtown neighborhood, there’s a childlike inquiry in Diamond’s work that persists and reflects how the artist remains a constant fixture in a neighborhood where her work continues to inform the public as well as a new generation of artists.

Recent Stories

16-Year-Old Fatally Shot in the Face on Delancey Street Last Night

A 16-year-old boy was shot and killed on Delancey Street last night, near the on-ramp to the Williamsburg Bridge, cops said. The teenager was shot in the face near the corner of Suffolk at about 8:30pm. Right at the foot of Essex Crossing. First responders rushed the boy, who was unconscious, to Bellevue Hospital for […]

CBGB Shut Down 15 Years Ago on the Bowery

Fifteen years ago. This was the night – arguably – that the last breath of punk exhaled on the Bowery. When CBGB concluded its residence at 315 Bowery. And the block could not look any different today. The former venue became, and remains, the upscale John Varvatos boutique; while its old CB’s Gallery space is […]

MOSCOT Launches New Chromeo Collaboration with in-Store Performance

MOSCOT recently launched a new collaboration with popular electro-funk duo Chromeo. To celebrate, the eyewear company is hosting a live performance of the group at its Orchard Street flagship tonight. According to the press release, the new “luxurious capsule collection” features two limited edition frame styles co-designed by David “Dave 1” Macklovitch and Patrick “P-Thugg” […]

Charlie Bird Vet Eyes Division Street for ‘Parcelle Wine’ Spinoff

A veteran of Charlie Bird is spinning off the popular Hell’s Kitchen wine shop into a dedicated bar on the Lower East Side. Down on Division Street in the orbit of Forgtmenot, Dimes, and Kiki’s. Three-year-old Parcelle Wine, situated inside the Henry Hall apartment building near the Lincoln Tunnel, has plans for 135 Division. Specifically, to […]

New York Rangers Pop-up Honors Hockey Great Rod Gilbert with LES Pop-Up

The New York Rangers are headed to the Lower East Side to honor one of its legendary fallen players, Rod Gilbert. With support from the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Blueshirts are hosting a pop-up tribute to the forward at 2 Rivington Street. “As we drop everything for Hockey Week, we also want to lift […]