Stephen Sprouse, photo by Mark Sink
Love Among the Ruins
A Short History of 56 Bleecker Gallery and Late 80s NY
Presented by Some Serious Business and Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project
September 9–October 6, 2017
Lust of glory pricked their hearts up, dread of shame
Struck them tame;
And that glory and that shame alike, the gold
Bought and sold. —Robert Browning, Love Among The Ruins
Let’s also say that change is neither good or bad. It simply is. It can be greeted with terror or joy. A tantrum that says, ‘I want it the way it was’ or a dance that says, ‘Look, it’s something new.’—Don Draper, Mad Men (AMC)
56 Bleecker Gallery held a unique position in the late 80’s art world. Part serious gallery, part happening, the space was a scene that reflected the explosive intersection of art, performance, music, fashion and the incredible nightlife culture of that era.
Featuring many of the most cutting edge artists of the time, such as Stephen Sprouse and David LaChapelle, it also presented rigorously serious shows of artists like Bruce Conner and Elaine Reichek. The space was a forum for nightclub impresario Eric Goode to produce an installation that was a window into his future endeavors. Taylor Mead directed the gallery’s historic performance of Jackie Curtis’ Glamour, Glory and Gold featuring legendary actors Ondine, John Heys, Penny Arcade, Harry Koutoukas and Margot Howard-Howard.
Left: Dean and Andy,1983. Photo Kate Simon, Center: Champagne and Gold, Right: Taylor Mead by Mark Sink
Some Serious Business and Howl! Happening are pleased to present Love Among The Ruins, co-curated by Susan Martin, founding director of Some Serious Business; Bill Stelling, 56 Bleecker gallery director and founder of the groundbreaking FUN Gallery with Patti Astor; and artist Maynard Monrow. All three curators were close friends of Dean Rolston, co-owner of 56 Bleecker who serves as inspiration for the exhibition.
Among the artists featured in this retrospective will be:
Sylvie Ball, Julian Beck, Mike Berg, David Bowes, Stefano Castronovo, Arch Connelly, Bruce Conner, Scott Covert, Graham Gillmore, Eric Goode, Robert Hawkins, Scott Kilgour, Ruth Kligman, David LaChapelle, Greer Lankton, Claire Lieberman, Sylvia Martins, McDermott & McGough, Auste Peciura, Felix Pene DuBois, Jeff Perrone, William Rand, Elaine Reichek, Rene Ricard, Bill Rice, Nicolas Rule, Vittorio Scarpatti, Bruno Schmidt, Mark Sink, and Stephen Sprouse. (Additional artists TBA)
56 Bleecker was a ‘scene’ as much as a venue for art. Openings featured guests as diverse as Stavros Niarchos, Richard Gere, Lauren Hutton, Fab 5 Freddy and Henry Geldzahler. Rene Ricard held court in the famous ‘Tin Room,’ anointing those in favor and banishing his enemies to NoHo Star.
While it was a time of enormous creativity, it was also one of deep sorrow. The exhibition will touch upon the impact of AIDS on our community. This retrospective will recreate the excitement of the era through a thoughtful curation of artists’ work, archival material, performance recreations, video reminiscence, and other special events including a new production of Jackie Curtis’ Glamour, Glory and Gold directed by Brian Butterick.
Elaine Reichek, Revenge of the Coconuts, 1988
Love Among The Ruins Panel Discussion: Sunday, September 10th – 7 PM
Glamour, Glory and Gold performance: Friday, September 22nd – 7 PM:
Glamour, Glory and Gold performance: Saturday, September 23rd – 7 PM
An Evening of Poetry Noir (Poets TBA): Thursday, September 28th – 7 PM
Closing Night with performances by Penny Arcade and Karen Finley: Friday, October 6th – 7 PM
A fully illustrated catalog will accompany the show with essays, ephemera, and commentary on the times. In addition, SSB will publish Remembering Dying, a memento mori of Dean’s death from AIDS, as a tribute to a remarkable man and as metaphor for all of those we lost.
In one year they sent a million fighters forth
South and North,
And they built their gods a brazen pillar high
As the sky
Yet reserved a thousand chariots in full force—
Gold, of course.
O heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns!
For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin!
Shut them in,
With their triumphs and their glories and the rest!
Love is best. —Robert Browning