Fueling downtown New York’s creativity in the late 1970s and ’80s was the do-it-yourself spirit that infused all the arts. Everyone was starting a band, a night club, a newspaper, or a gallery. This was the context in December 1980, when the artists’ group Collaborative Projects, Inc. (COLAB) organized the first of what would be a series of “A. More Stores” timed for the holiday gift-buying season. The first of the stores was solely artist-run and took place in a rented storefront on Broome Street in Soho; subsequent shows (the last was in 1984) were organized by COLAB but housed in sympathetic galleries.
A full-page advertisement in the East Village Eye, drawn by COLAB member Tom Otterness, spotlights some of the items in the original 1980 store, including Christy Rupp’s plaster rats, Walter Robinson’s stencil painting of a man with a broken bottle, Alan Moore’s painted shirt with broken TV sets, and Bobby G’s “Money Talks” pin. Customers could carry home their bargain art purchases in a stenciled paper shopping bag by Dick Miller, which today looks like a precursor to the work of Christopher Wool.
The success of the A. More Stores would inspire some artists to further explore the ambiguous lines separating art and product. Suzan Pitt’s painted coats were such a hit at the 1984 store that she continued making and selling them over the next year, ultimately producing close to one hundred. Gallery 98 has recently acquired a rare original.
Check out more items from the A. More Stores at Gallery 98’s spotlight page.