This week we’ve been lucky enough to have Dillon Gallery’s director, Eric Walstedt, share his personal thoughts on their March show “Time and Space on the Lower East Side: 1980 + 2010”. Enjoy!
1980 was a crossroads year in New York, both for the city and for me. The city was just beginning its recovery from the financial collapse of the 70s and the heroin epidemic had peaked and begun its slow decline. I bought my first apartment that year, a railroad flat in a tenement between avenues C & D that cost $1,000 and looked out over desolate 8th Street. Blight was everywhere, particularly in the East Village with its burnt out buildings and burnt out human beings, but creative ferment and unexpected beauty also found expression.
Last fall, when I first saw the series of Brian Rose photographs from his recently published book, “Time and Space on the Lower East Side: 1980 + 2010”, the connection was immediate and visceral. I knew these places; I had lived in that world, on those same streets at that exact time. There are many ways a gallery chooses artists but the most interesting tend to involve a type of serendipity; such was the case here.
The logic of taking on a new artist, of course, has to go far beyond affinity and coincidental connection. As a gallery just beginning to expand its photography presentation, Brian Rose represented a major step forward for Dillon Gallery. We were clearly attracted by the extraordinary quality of the images, but also by his artistic lineage as a student of Joel Meyerowitz, renowned street photographer, mentor and inspiration to an entire generation of color photographers, and by Brian’s representation in some of the most important museum photography collections in the world, including MOMA, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the George Eastman House.
We made a fairly quick decision to include works from “Time and Space…” in our rather eclectic booth in Art Miami 2012. Our show there combined works by young Japanese artists, Ultra Violet, Warhol’s muse of the 60’s and 70’s, and the photographic works of Maurizio Galimberti, Seth Casteel and Brian Rose, among others. We were gratified, even a little surprised, at the intensity of the reaction to what Suzanne Vega calls, in her introduction to the book, Brian’s “unsentimental, pitiless vision.” However, she also cites his “deep love for New York City, which is abundantly evident here in these pictures,” and which undoubtedly contributed to the response. It certainly had resonance for me.
The photographs from 1980 were executed in collaboration with fellow Cooper Union graduate Edward Fausty and the works from 2010 on Brian’s own, with Edward’s blessing. In 1980, it was probably essential that they traveled those streets together. I remember a friendly block party at a community “garden” on 7th Street that year, a few raised beds amidst the rubble, where in a short space of time a friend’s Nikon was stolen and a loaded revolver was flashed. That place appears, more real than my memory, in the book.
Dillon Gallery will present the exhibition, “Time and Space on the Lower East Side: 1980 + 2010,” in March 2013.
Written by: Eric Walstedt, Director