Since its launch, a little over a year ago, Howl! Happening gallery at 6 East 1st Street has consistently celebrated the East Village’s 1970s and ’80s heyday. The gallery’s fall season opens on September 16 with an exhibition devoted to the East Village Eye, the independent publication founded by Leonard Abrams in 1979, which served as the neighborhood’s voice for the following eight years. From today’s vantage, this remarkable 72-issue run stands as a record of a dynamic decade that saw the concurrent rises of hip-hop, punk, and the East Village art scene, as well as the onset of gentrification and the beginning of the AIDS epidemic.
Gallery 98 has a wide selection of Eye back issues currently available for purchase. Highlights include:the debut issue, with cover star James Chance (scheduled to perform at the Howl! opening’s after-party at the Delancey); issue #3, with cover illustration by the late Alan Vega of Suicide; the January 1982 “Chilly Xmas” issue, with a centerfold by Futura 2000 and the first print appearance of the term “hip-hop”; and the October 1983 issue, with art editor Walter Robinson and columnist Carlo McCormick reporting on the fresh East Village art scene, and, on the cover, Richard Hambleton’s parody of Richard Prince.
Marc H. Miller of Gallery 98 wrote the Eye column“Miller’s Memorabilia” from February 1983 to January 1986. While the Eye’s other pages ran the news of the day, “Miller’s Memorabilia” dug up archival images to shed light on current trends and interests. When a coalition of environmentalists helped unseat incumbent New Mexico senator (and former astronaut) Harrison Schmitt, “Miller’s Memorabilia” spotlighted the irony in Schmitt’s earlier authorship of the iconic “Blue Marble” photo of the full Earth, often used as a symbol of the environmental movement. The simultaneous art-world ascendance of Keith Haring and his gallerist Tony Shafrazi occasioned the resurrection of a 1974 Daily News front page headlined “Vandal Sprays Picasso Mural”—a decade later, few knew Shafrazi’s history as a conceptual artist, and the “vandal” in question.
It’s All True: The East Village Eye Show will complement the newspaper’s extensive history with original artwork by such former contributors as David Wojnarowicz, Becky Howland, and Sue Coe, and with an ample calendar of readings, screenings, and other events. Instead of the customary catalogue that accompanies each Howl! exhibition, there will be a new one-off issue of the Eye (the first in nearly 30 years!). Look for a new “Miller’s Memorabilia” column.