Wednesday, March 28, 2007

On the Bowery, a New Home for New Art
Published: March 28, 2007

"Being a board member [of the New Museum] requires a minimum annual contribution of $25,000 as well as a six-figure check for the building campaign...
...The board spent a year scouring the city for its new home. “It wasn’t till we saw the empty parking lot on the Lower East Side that we knew we’d found the spot,” Ms. Phillips said. “The board ... loved the fact that the neighborhood was rough and the street was languishing,...
...Officials at the museum also say that once the new building opens, it will change the complexion of the Lower East Side ..."
...It will become an exciting place to go..."

The New Museum characterizing this neighborhood as “languishing” tells me they don’t know this vibrant community or its institutions (Bowery Poetry Club, Clemente Soto Velez, Chinese in the Americas, University Settlement, Tenement Museum, St. Augustine’s Slave Galleries, Eldridge Street Synagogue, Bowery Mission, Dixon Place, Liz Christy and M’Finda Gardens, etc).

This “rough” (cheap real estate) neighborhood ends as the Museum arrives. A portenteous show involved a periscope into the “living room” of SRO tenants, allowing well-heeled, timid passers-by to take their “walk on the wild side”.
Unexamined ideas can make for pallid, even offensive, notions of “exciting”.

We have lost many of our distinctive places and people (the last Bowery Dance Hall, Kate Millet, Adam Purple’s garden, the African Burial Ground under the New Museum, etc.). Yet, museum officials exclaim, “…once the new building opens, it will change the complexion of the Lower East Side”.

Sadly, yes, it just might.

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