Artists' Soho: 49 Episodes of Intimate History

Artists' Soho: 49 Episodes of Intimate History

Artists' Soho: 49 Episodes of Intimate History

Artists' Soho: 49 Episodes of Intimate History

Synopsis

How a little-known industrial neighborhood in New York unintentionally became a nexus of creative activity for a brief burst of time.During the 1960s and 1970s in New York City, young artists exploited an industrial wasteland to create spacious studios where they lived and worked, redefining the Manhattan area just south of Houston Street. Its use fueled not by city planning schemes but by word-of-mouth recommendations, the areasoon grew to become a world-class center for artistic creation indeed, the largest urban artists' colony ever in America - let alone the world.Richard Kostelanetz's Artists' SoHo not only examines why the artists came and how they accomplished what they did but also delves into the lives and works of some of the most creative personalities who lived there during that period, including Nam June Paik, Robert Wilson, Meredith Monk, Richard Foreman, Hannah Wilke, George Macuinas, and Alan Suicide. Gallerists followed the artists in fashioning themselves, their homes, their buildings, and even their streets into transiently prominent exhibition and performance spaces.SoHo pioneer Richard Kostelanetz's extensively researched intimate history is framed within a personal memoir that unearths myriad perspectives: social and cultural history, the changing rules for residency and ownership, the ethos of the community, the physical layouts of the lofts, the types ofart produced, venues that opened and closed, the daily rhythm, and the gradual invasion of "new people." Artists' SoHo also explores how and why this fertile bohemia couldn't last forever. As wealthier people paid higher prices, galleries left, younger artists settled elsewhere, and the neighborhoodbecame a "SoHo Mall" of trendy stores and restaurants.Compelling and often humorous, Artists' SoHo provides an analysis of a remarkable neighborhood that transformed the art and culture of New York City over the past five decades.

Excerpt

This book brings together two long-standing interests of mine: avant-garde arts, about which I’ve written much before, and New York City, the sound of which was the subject and theme of my longest electroacoustic audiotape composition. Better yet, it takes place in downtown Manhattan, where I went to elementary school and have lived most of my life, where my parents lived for their last de cades, and an area I continue to love even after I’ve left it. Since my cultural roots remain in downtown Manhattan, I’ve tried to speak of SoHo as though I still lived there, preferring, say, “here” over “there.” If this recalls my participation in some uniquely rich American cultural history, consider that, much like my artist neighbors, I wasn’t aware of an experience so special until it had ended, so that writing about it now, some de cades later, I have become an outsider looking back much as a disinterested historian might.

Meant to be read from beginning to end, this panoramic episodic essay in intimate cultural history mixes the spatial with the sequential, as well as the personal with the general, in a series of interrelated episodes about various phenomena, individuals, and issues. On the other hand, for more selective readers this book opens not with a table of contents but an abridged index, identifying exactly where discussions of particular subjects can be found.

Of the many people who generously helped, mostly by responding to emailed questions and drafts, I’m grateful especially to Douglas Puchowski. the first draft was written between ocean swims during a . . .

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