Way before the advent of mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and all the rest of it, in what seems like a far off and forgotten time – ‘the eighties’ – it seems that artists in New York and for that matter everywhere else lived a less complicated existence.
A friend and fellow creative in the States recently sent me this cartoon. She said it reminded her of an art co-operative that I founded in the early eighties in West Chester, Pennsylvania…called Aartworks. It made me smile broadly:)
This got me thinking about one of my favourite movies – Slaves of New York – a comedy based on Tama Janowitz’s best-selling collection of short stories that defined the downtown New York art scene of the 1980s. It also reminded me of Aartworks…..
Eleanor – played by Bernadette Peters, is an aspiring hat designer who lives with her successful artist boyfriend.
The high cost of rents makes Eleanor and most of her fellow loft dwellers slaves to their relationships. If they could afford to move, they could then move on….and focus on their own creative path.
Although still plagued by the usual issues of finding enough money to pay for art supplies, bread, cheese, wine and pay the rent, and of course dealing with the galleries and often quite obnoxious dealers, I do recall that period as being one of high energy and creative pursuit.
Elanor in one of wonderful creations….my sort of fashion statement.
As free as the atmosphere was in the eighties,…..galleries called the shots. At that time no one could have predicted the advent of the internet and social media and what this would mean for artists of every medium.
I wish I had lots of photographs from that period and I am sure that somewhere many can be found. Again it was pre digital camera…and so the cost and time of developing film was often too much for most artists, who were putting all their energy into creating new work.
This large oil on canvas – symbolic self portrait is from that time….The arm and hand holding the apple – signifying for me – ‘Yes I can do it’ – was sculpted by Janet Cleveland, a wonderful artist who could have been easily cast in Slaves of New York. I can never look at this painting, without thinking of Janet and that lovely period.