The Director of Semaphore Gallery in Soho, Barry Blinderman was also a freelance writer for Arts Magazine, where he wrote very early articles on Keith Haring and Robert Longo, among others. In the fall of 1981, he curated a very popular exhibition called The Anxious Figure, reflecting the new figuration by artists like John Ahearn, Jedd Garet, Ed Paschke, Longo, Haring, and others. He speaks with NYC, 1981 about the art scene as it was happening on the streets and in the galleries, in the studios and the clubs.
Miss Rosen: Please talk about the art scene, as it was downtown in 1981. I am very interested in the relationship between the street and the gallery, and the way in which outsider artists migrated into the mix of curators, collectors, and critics. Could you speak about how the door was opened to this new generation of artists?
Barry Blinderman: In 1980-81, some of the most vanguard art being created in New York wasn’t on view within the white-walled sanctuaries of SoHo. At lower Manhattan nightspots such as Mudd Club or Club 57, young artists, musicians, filmmakers, poets and other performers congregated to collaborate on one- or two-evening events. I first met Keith Haring at Club 57, which occupied a church basement on St. Mark’s Place, and a few years later I met Martin Wong at Danceteria on the West Side. It was a time when you could keep up with what was going on by scanning the layers of posters that decorated walls and construction sites downtown. New Wave rock bands, many featuring art school dropouts, were exhibiting some of the most innovative artwork in the form of concert announcements. Cryptic messages by SAMO and other graffiti poets began to appear at regular intervals between the East Village and Tribeca.
Read the Full Story at NYC, 1981