East Village Eye Reviewed

“It’s All True: The East Village Eye Show”

The East Village Eye is in the high-brow section of what’s happening in New York City for its recent provocative discourse. The magazine that published all that was fit to print about art, music, books and politics in the East Village from 1979-1987 is back in business this month at Howl Happening for “It’s All True: The East Village Eye Show” lasting until the ninth of October along with a brand new special edition of the magazine. A lot of the archive is on display along with works of art by the likes of David Wojnarowicz, Alan Vega, Kiki Smith, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. If you look on the walls of Howl, there are photos of Laurie Anderson, Bret Easton Ellis, Jay McInerney, David Byrne and Robert Mapplethorpe. The founder and editor-in-chief of the publication, Leonard Abrams has been working non-stop to make the gallery show and all the surrounding events nothing short of wonderful: you get a sense that the past is being celebrated but without the nostalgia factor. Those who were around to have witnessed the city in the ’70s and ’80s are doing just that: they’re bearing witness.

The opening reception for It’s All True: The East Village Eye Show was the evening of September 16th and it was filled to the brim with onlookers excitedly reminiscing and admiring the art until we were all eventually made to leave. Even after we left and then ate dinner nearby, artists Tom Otterness and Coleen Fitzgibbon could be seen still standing in front of the closed-for-the-night gallery chatting with friends. All in all, I would say the opening was a success: it was so crowded that I could barely see the art on the walls. It’s a lot to look at and take in: I’d recommend going when the gallery isn’t so crowded so you can take your time and actually read the fine print.

After the opening reception for the gallery show, there was a publication party at the Delancey. The bill for the night was a stunner with the likes of esoteric punk music in the form of The Sic Fucks, Lenny Kaye and the Connection and James Chance and the Contortions. Tish and Snooky were decked out in Manic Panic makeup and hair dye to go with their signature naughty nun attire. Lenny Kaye then took the stage and wore a blue velvet shirt with a paisley design. He sang “Gloria” and added a special twist to the lyrics as he remembered the East Village of the ’70s and ’80s. Then James Chance took hold of the room and set it ablaze with his unique in-your-face style of No-Wave punk jazz fusion. The room was contorted in the best way possible after a night of being entertained by the pros: the ones who know what the New York City definition of cool was when it was at its cultural peak.

For the past two days, Howl Happening has hosted a showcase of films (the Cinema of Transgression) from the era that include works by Sara Driver, Vivienne Dick, Tommy Turner, Richard Kern and Nick Zedd to name a few. These avant-garde films flickered on the screen so their viewers could bask in low-budget, DIY storytelling while new artists are being celebrated as well. I think one of the most interesting things that keep The East Village Eye and its creator, Leonard Abrams in such good standing is the open-mindedness and willingness towards up-and-coming artists. It’s not just about remembering the past but preparing for our future as well. A young filmmaker by the name of Twiggs Gorie had her films screened along with the likes of David Wojnarowicz and young writers were put to work on the new issue of the magazine. Young poets and interviewers (I interviewed Kembra Pfahler) were published right alongside those who have been in the business for decades (such as Eileen Myles).

If you take in any art in the city within the next week or so, make sure it’s the East Village Eye Show at Howl Happening.  “It’s All True” will give people of all ages and predilections something to think about when it comes to art and living an alternative lifestyle that nixes the status quo. There is also another special event coming up to help celebrate the Eye: on the night of October 6th at 7 PM, “Channeling the Dead” will take place in order to honor those who have passed on. Living writers such as Bob Holman, Max Blagg and Carl Watson will read the works of Kathy Acker, Rene Ricard, Cookie Mueller and John Farris to name a few. The special edition issue of The East Village Eye is circulating around the city (mostly in the East Village) so try to get your hands on a copy if you want to read genuine journalism about artists such as Kembra Pfahler of the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts and Edgar Oliver along with articles by Anthony Haden-Guest and Walter Robinson.