New York

“East Village USA”

New Museum

As I dipped into the foreword of the catalogue for “East Village USA,” the New Museum of Contemporary Art’s survey of the rollicking scene that sprang to life on the mean streets of New York’s Alphabet City circa 1981 and vanished as quickly some half-dozen years later, I experienced a start of recognition. Like the show’s mastermind, New Museum senior curator Dan Cameron, I lived in the East Village as the scene bustled into being and cut my teeth there as a critic. But it was not these biographical details that served as my proverbial madeleine, so much as Cameron’s surprising confession that, back then, he was as skeptical as he was enthralled.

My own tastes at the time ran more to Metro Pictures (at that point still on Mercer Street) than to FUN Gallery or Gracie Mansion; “real” art, it seemed to this very green college grad, must necessarily exist out there in some bigger, less-accessible

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