Evelyn Omega Cannon

Steve Cannon, Whose Townhouse Was an East Village Salon, Dies at 84

Steve Cannon at his townhouse in the East Village in 2014 as he was preparing to move out. He had overseen a salon there, opening his doors and welcoming artists, musicians, poets and others to join a conversation that meandered for decades. Credit: Adam Golfer | NYTimes.com

Steve Cannon at his townhouse in the East Village in 2014 as he was preparing to move out. He had overseen a salon there, opening his doors and welcoming artists, musicians, poets and others to join a conversation that meandered for decades.
Credit: Adam Golfer | NYTimes.com

By Colin Moynihan

For years, Steve Cannon, a writer and publisher, maintained an open-door policy at his three-story Federal-style townhouse in the East Village of Manhattan, creating a salon that welcomed a revolving cast of visitors to join a continuing conversation.

Painters, poets, musicians and composers showed up. So did a grab bag of others who wandered in, some by pure chance. And presiding over it all was Mr. Cannon, who had lost his eyesight to glaucoma in 1989.

Mr. Cannon died on July 7 at 84. A half sister, Evelyn Omega Cannon, said the cause was believed to be septic shock following hip surgery at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Manhattan.

Mr. Cannon bought the townhouse, on East Third Street between Avenues C and D, in 1970. In the early 1990s he started a literary magazine there, A Gathering of the Tribes, along with an art gallery. Writers like Paul Beatty and Miguel Algarin contributed to the magazine.

The publication and gallery reflected the grit and creativity of the neighborhood in the 1990s, when the East Village, not yet gentrified, was still a bastion of the avant-garde.

Something always seemed to be happening at Mr. Cannon’s place. Annual festivals honoring the great jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker were planned there. Ishmael Reed, one of Mr. Cannon’s longtime friends, read his work at the gallery. Members of the experimental Sun Ra Arkestra performed in the backyard.

The artist David Hammons, another friend, once painted a wall inside the gallery as part of an installation. Among the regular visitors was the cornetist and composer Butch Morris, an East Village neighbor who had created a form of large-ensemble music built on collective improvisation.

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