Curt Hoppe, Downtown Portraits

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Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project

Howl! Happening takes its name from the unpredictable, free-form happenings of the 60s and 70s, where active participation of the audience blurred the boundary between the art and the viewer. More to be experienced than described, Howl! Happening will curate exhibitions and stage live events that combine elements of art, poetry, music, dance, vaudeville, and theater—a cultural stew that defies easy definition. For more than a decade, Howl! Festival has been an annual community event—a free summer happening in and around Tompkins Square Park, dedicated to celebrating the past and future of contemporary culture in the East Village and the Lower East Side. The history and contemporary culture of the East Village are still being written. The mix of rock and roll, social justice, art and performance, community activism, gay rights and culture, immigrants, fashion, and nightlife are even more relevant now. While gentrification continues apace and money is king, Howl! Happening declares itself a spontaneous autonomous zone: a place where people simultaneously experience and become the work of art. As Alan Kaprow, the “father” of the happening, said: “The line between art and life should be kept as fluid and indistinct as possible.”

curt hoppe Downtown Portraits Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project April 24—May 22, 2019

Introduction Curt Hoppe

Love’s Philosophy by Percy Bysshe Shelly The fountains mingle with the river And the rivers with the ocean, The winds of heaven mix forever With a sweet emotion; Nothing in the world is single; All things by a law divine In one spirit meet and mingle. Why not I with thine?— See the mountains kiss high heaven And the waves clasp one another; No sister-flower would be forgiven If it disdained its brother; And the sunlight clasps the earth, And the moonbeams kiss the sea: What is all this sweet work worth If thou kiss not me?

About six days after Arturo entered the hospital he called me to say, “The doctors came in. They told me I had three days to live. That was five days ago.” I fifth-stepped with Arturo, yeah, confessed all my sins during a night out (on me) in Little Italy. We sat outside. It was hot; I was nervous as hell. I confessed, and he said “yeah, so big deal….” Arturo Vega was the First Portrait. We became friends when the Ramones signed my Bettie and the Ramones portrait at CBGB. We then went on to Washington D.C. for the first Punk Art Exhibition at the Washington Project for the Arts in 1978. We would hang out together up until about ’83, then slowly parted ways. He touring with the Ramones, me with my painting career…as did most of us. Fast forward to 2007. I was having an exhibit and sent him an announcement and, lo and behold, he came. It was as if no time had passed at all. We started hanging out, going to lunch. He’d have small dinner parties, and we would go to art openings together. There was never an easier person to be with than Arturo. He was one of the sweetest people that I ever knew; he made everyone feel special. I was born April 19, 1950. This is 69 years of learning. I am a painter and photographer. I also love Shelley, Dickens, and Dylan. I’m an incurable romantic, but a realist. When I was a kid growing up in Minneapolis, the Mississippi River was just across the road from where I lived. I was warned by my parents not to go down to it. That it was dangerous, but I did anyway. I loved watching the current as it flowed down from Minnesota to New Orleans. There were swirls in the water—the tow, the splashes, the swirls, and then an occasional wave jumped out of nowhere. That’s us, we make waves. My Dad committed suicide. Before he offed himself with prescription pills in a retirement community, he had called me the week before and left me with some wise words: “Don’t get involved...UNLESS YOU HAVE TO.” That was six months before I started Downtown Portraits. I got involved with portraits because I HAD to. They became a crazy obsession. Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project embodies his spirit. “Something is HAPPENING

HERE...and you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?” Outsiders all—the kooks, the nuts, the bullied, the different, a bunch of square pegs in round holes from all parts of the world. Maybe you didn’t live here then, but anyone who was and is and will be an outsider—you are part of this too. These exhibition portraits are dedicated to the outsiders— past, present, and the future. I always start off the invite for a shoot with, “It’s simple, just come as you.” I’m not a stylist. I am a realist and now when closer to the goal line than the starting gate there’s no time for vanity. I dislike vanity. But I love cool. The two don’t mix. As previously noted, these photographs and paintings would not have happened without Arturo Vega. None of it. He was the first portrait; was it just luck or a “Simple Twist of Fate?” Portraits became an obsession, a mania, a kind of idée fixe. These are people from my past: all emerging out the same pool, shaking off the water, and presenting themselves as a record. These portraits are about taking the measure of our lives right now as much as memorializing our shared past. Arturo was hanging out in my loft one day, cheering me up after a disastrous exhibit I had during the month of February when the economy crashed and I couldn’t find a buyer if my life depended on it, and Dad had offed himself. Needless to say it was the “Worst of Times.” I said to Arturo let me shoot some photos of you. I had this thought that we were all getting better with time, like wine and cheese, wisdom versus youth. And that he would make a great portrait. I painted him from the front with NO mention of the Ramones. He was moving on, and so was I. “Justice Is Necessary” seemed right for the times with what Wall Street, the banks, and Bush had done to us. Now back to Dylan. As a Minnesota boy who can have Talmudic discussions about what Dylan meant in each song, this one is simple: “May You Stay Forever Young.” And that’s what our crew has done. We are forever young. Life is not perfect. I no longer believe that realism is a oneto-one correspondence with reality. Realism is more interesting than that, and life is more interesting than perfection.

Curt Hoppe sits next to his painting Bettie and the Ramones, 1978, oil on canvas

Curt Hoppe’s Downtown Portraits Marc H Miller

Downtown Portraits is Curt Hoppe’s personal tribute to the creative community that has inspired and sustained him over the last half century. The collection of portraits created from 2007 to 2019 includes 24 larger-than-life black-andwhite paintings and 105 black-and-white photographs. The entire group of works will be shown in exhibitions running simultaneously at Howl! Happening and Frank Bernarducci Gallery. While every one of these works can stand alone, being able to see the photographic and painted portraits as a group reinforces their interconnections—to use Hoppe’s own words, “they are family.” The subjects encompass a varied group of artists, musicians, writers, curators, filmmakers, performers, gallerists, and art entrepreneurs from the great period of creativity in downtown New York in the 1970s and 80s. Hoppe’s decision to create a personal pantheon is partly a response to contemporary culture, where many people regularly record and celebrate their own unique experiences and friendships in digital form on social media. However, Hoppe also keeps one foot firmly rooted in the past. The 24 oversize paintings bestow on Hoppe’s undertaking the added clout associated with a respected, old-fashioned medium that allows for scale and permanence. Hoppe’s project is a nostalgic return to a time when he first discovered his own creative direction and became part of the downtown art community. He celebrates his subjects not in their past, youthful glory, but as they look today, closer to the end than the beginning. Like Hoppe himself, they are survivors. He finds as much inspiration in their continued efforts and achievement as in their past success. Hoppe has said this project is his way of giving back to the people who “made and still make my life enjoyable.” In truth, Downtown Portraits is as much about the artist himself as the people he depicts. In this late-life project, Hoppe brings himself closer to those he admires, deliberately defining his own identity as an artist by connecting with a group of fellow travelers that he is proud to call his peers. I first met Curt in late 1976, on the stairway at 98 Bowery. He and his first wife Becky had just moved to New York from Minneapolis and had rented the fourth floor loft in the building. 98 Bowery was an “artist building,” one of many unused former warehouse-and-factory spaces downtown that young

artists were converting into live-in studios in the early 70s. I lived on the fifth floor with my partner Bettie Ringma. All of us in the building had recently relocated from out of town and were in our mid 20s-30s. We were a close-knit group, whose camaraderie was strengthened by the threatening Bowery street scene dominated by alcoholics passing out in front of our door. Curt likes to describe himself as a self-taught realist painter, although in truth he did have a few years of art schooling at the University of Minnesota. His encounter with Chuck Close’s Big Self-Portrait (1967-68) at the Walker Art Center determined his creative direction. He was totally taken by the huge, hyperrealist, nine-foot tall, black-and-white face, and spent months puzzling out how to duplicate Close’s airbrush and gridding techniques. Later he learned Close’s three-color separation technique, as well as the methods developed by other hyperrealist painters. In those first years Hoppe’s subject matter was predominantly nudes, and his favorite artists (apart from Close) were Jerry Ott, Hilo Chen, and Gerhard Richter. Being an artist can be lonely, especially for a hyperrealist facing long hours of tedious work in the studio. Curt frequently came up to the fifth floor eager for diversion and discussion about what was happening in the art world. Although Curt was fully committed to his skill-based art form, he was also curious about other trends in the mid-70s. Bettie and I were quite innovative, and our photography and drawing projects were seen as part of the conceptual art movement. Curt saw the humor and audacity of our Paparazzi Self-Portraits and was particularly interested in our series Bettie Visits CBGB, a collection of snapshots of Ringma posing with the up-and-coming musicians at the Bowery club where punk was born. Curt sometimes accompanied us to CBGB, where he witnessed both the vitality of the scene and how our “proto-selfies” served to make us part of the action. Curt seized the opportunity to join us in early 1978 when Bettie and I were invited to organize a punk art exhibition at the Washington Project for the Arts in Washington D.C. The Miller-Ringma-Hoppe collaboration came together so quickly and naturally that to this day we cannot quite agree who suggested it first. Curt stopped painting nudes and devoted more than a month to a larger-than-life 5 x 6’ blow-up of our tiny photo of Bettie with the Ramones. The finished paint-

ing was so impressive that Ramones manager Danny Fields arranged for us to take it to CBGB, where the Ramones added their signatures to the canvas. Curt gleefully recalls the moment: “You can’t imagine the thrill of carrying that big 5 x 6’ painting down the Bowery and getting the Ramones to specially come over to CBs in the afternoon just to sign it.… They all just stood there staring at it…. When we carried that autographed painting back to 98, Marc, Bettie, and I were just flying.” The Bettie and the Ramones painting became a conspicuous part of the Punk Art Exhibition in D.C. and was even reproduced in Art in America. In a remarkably short period Curt had leveraged his realist painting skill to establish himself in what was at that moment one of the more exciting corners of the New York art world. He reached another early pinnacle two years later as one of the stars at the New York/ New Wave exhibition at PS1, where curator Diego Cortez prominently displayed his Screw magazine illustrations featuring celebrities like Jacqueline Onassis and Rupert Murdoch in unlikely X-rated couplings. The late 70s were a formative time for Curt. His skills as a painter were now on full display, and he had simultaneously come to understand the powerful effect that a skilled hyperrealist painter could achieve. In the Punk Art Exhibition catalog he noted: “I find that if you lay someone down in oils and take a long time to do it, that it seems like it has a great deal of importance. Why else would somebody take so much time to portray it?” An additional plus was that in the 70s a painting was esteemed to be a more permanent medium than a photograph. Realizing this, Curt confidently wielded his technical prowess like a prized tool that could be manipulated for both economic and social ends. Curt has always principally used his skills in order to make a living. Like other artists of his generation he was not overly concerned with distinctions between fine art and commercial art. He has done illustration work for publications and also regularly accepted portrait commissions. In addition he sought out subjects like specific landscapes and city street scenes that he knew would appeal to particular collectors. For a period of about 12 years he was particularly successful painting Hamptons scenes for the walls of the lavish second homes of investment bankers and lawyers for whom price was no concern. It was an eclectic career that unfolded mostly out of the view of the New York art world, although Curt continued to live at 98 Bowery with his wife

Ruth Hoppe and identified as an East Village artist. The economic recession of 2008 and a solo exhibition where none of his paintings sold led to Curt’s Downtown Portraits. After a decade of painting Hamptons landscapes, he was searching for new direction. Over the years he had painted numerous portraits, mostly on commission, and a couple of his wife Ruth. Finding himself with time on his hands he embarked on a portrait of Arturo Vega, an artist whom Curt had known since the 1978 Punk Art Exhibition and with whom he had recently reconnected. As the designer of the popular Ramones logo, Arturo had stature and was also a very supportive and empathetic figure who, in Curt’s words, “made everyone around him feel special.” Working on a larger-than-life portrait of a friend felt good, and the reception the finished painting received from Arturo and others lifted Curt’s spirits. Almost immediately he started on a second portrait, this one of Clayton Patterson, another friend and East Village stalwart. Hoppe’s decision to paint portraits of his friends and the people he admires makes perfect sense. He had succeeded in proving his worth as an artist, but as he approached the age of 60 he felt the need to view himself within the context of his peers. Curt’s retrospective focus can also be seen as part of the predictable 30- to 40-year cycle of revivals, a phenomenon particularly pronounced in the case of our aging baby-boom generation. Curt is an avid follower of EV Grieve, a popular blog that constantly laments the changes taking place as the East Village undergoes gentrification. And he was also aware of my website 98 Bowery, that presents a detailed account of the experiences we shared in the art world of the 70s and 80s. Almost as if by magic, people Curt had not seen for decades suddenly reappeared in his life. Arturo brought Richard Hambleton to his studio; through Facebook, Curt reconnected with Kurt Thometz, an old friend from Minneapolis who now owned a bookstore in Harlem. Thometz invited Curt to visit As/If, a short-lived Harlem gallery run by Diego Cortez with Seth Tillett, another downtown veteran. Here Curt connected with Fred Brathwaite, John Ahearn, Charlie Ahearn, and Jane Dickson. The New Museum’s 2012 exhibition Come Closer: Art Around the Bowery, 1969-89 (which included Curt’s painting Bettie and the Ramones) helped resurrect past connections with John Holmstrom, Marcia Resnick, and Colette. Curt invited each of them to stop by

his studio to be photographed, and gradually his vision of an extended series of paintings honoring his friends and heroes from the downtown years came into focus. When he embarked on Downtown Portraits Curt realized right away this was a backward glance to his youth, and deliberately returned to his original inspiration—Chuck Close’s giant self-portrait at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Hoppe and Close both work on a monumental scale, use only black and white, and isolate their subjects against a plain white background. But while Close restricts himself to painting only the face, Hoppe augments the heroic quality of his subjects by drawing upon the grand tradition of full-figure state portraits. In his eight-foot high paintings, the subjects loom large as they look down at the viewer. Curt’s project gained new momentum after Arturo Vega’s death in 2013 and the creation of the art space Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project—just a few blocks from Curt’s studio—by Vega’s friend Jane Friedman three years later. Howl’s mission to showcase the creative spirit of the East Village that Arturo personified is nearly identical to what Curt hopes to accomplish with his Downtown Portraits. Howl events are a gathering place for downtown veterans, where Curt has run into many artists and musicians he once knew in the 70s and 80s, as well as many others who had not been part of his immediate circle. Curt’s role as an advisor to Howl has helped him expand his awareness of the downtown world he celebrates with his portraits. Brian Butterick, Richard Boch, and Al Diaz are some of the people whom Curt had not previously known and were now invited to pose for his camera. As his project has continued over time, Curt’s personal pantheon of heroes has become increasingly interconnected with the bigger picture of downtown culture presented at Howl. For Curt the great joy of Downtown Portraits is interacting with his subjects, all like-minded people linked to both his past and present. With some of his subjects it is a bit of a reunion following years with little contact; with others it is a first meeting and an opportunity for Curt to get to know someone he had previously only known from a distance. At the portrait session, the subject is isolated against a white backdrop similar to that used by Chuck Close and Richard Avedon. To capture his subjects’ full body language, Curt does vertical shots from the top of the head down to the shins or ankles. Curt works fast, shooting rapidly with

a hand-held camera with automatic advance attached to strobe lights on each side of the set. As he circles around subjects, he engages them with witty banter and encouraging words—urging to move and strike different poses. Each photo session lasts five to 15 minutes. In the end, it is Curt who selects the photograph that will become part of the Downtown Portraits portfolio. Pressed to explain what he wants in a selected shot, Curt admits to being a little inconsistent. Sometimes the photograph effectively captures the personality of the subject; in other instances it is an attention-grabbing pose or gesture that carries the picture. Curt wants his subjects to look good but has little patience with vanity issues, especially those connected to signs of aging, like wrinkles and balding heads. His goal is to show each person’s distinctive charisma, the style and confidence they have developed over many years working as artists in the competitive environment of downtown New York. For Curt, “everyone is cooler now; our life is on our face.” As Downtown Portraits started as a painting project, Curt initially viewed the photographs as merely source material for the final works on canvas. But then he realized how much he enjoyed the photo sessions, and now sees the photographs as the heart of Downtown Portraits. They are connected to the paintings but constitute a distinct collection of their own. After he reached his goal of 20 paintings, he added four more. He will probably continue adding to the series, but it is of course unlikely he will ever be able to paint all of the 105 people he has photographed. Curt is fortunate to have been part of a time and place that has had a major impact on contemporary culture. Downtown New York’s legendary creative moment can be compared to fin-de-siècle Paris or the Harlem Renaissance. Curt is proud to have been part of this moment, interacting with so many high-achievers and able to leave this record for future generations. History often lavishes attention on only a select few, but in truth every period is a complex tangle made up of multiple voices. Curt’s subjects are not all superstars, but they each have played a role in the cross-pollination of ideas that animated the 70s and 80s— they are respected in their own right. Downtown Portraits broadens the playing field. With his formidable skills as a photographer and painter, Curt imbues each of his subjects with timeless heroic stature.

Portrait of the artist’s hands

Curt Hoppe holds a book showing an image of Chuck Close’s Big Self-Portrait, painted from 1967–68

Curt Hoppe Carlo McCormick

In 1890, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, still bristling from his lawsuit against the English art critic John Ruskin for what he deemed a libelous dismissal of his paintings—as “flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face”—published his own book of grievances aptly called The Gentle Art of Making Enemies. Among his many myriad barbs launched at fellow artists, he describes one portrait painter as not so bad, considering the pandering mercantile nature of his genre. In truth, regardless of the virtues of the artist, the brunt end of this assessment is a fair estimation of portraiture. And for all the great portraits now in the canon—from Rembrandt to Van Dyck, Velázquez to Sargent, or Titian to Gainsborough, not to mention the Mona Lisa—there lingers the taint of some vulgar vanity and overweening wealth to the commission of portraits that is problematic as we come to measure fine art’s cozy relationship to money and power. Fortunately for his own work though likely a bit worse for his wallet, Curt Hoppe seems to have eschewed the common practice of wooing the wealthy and painting pretty pictures for their posterity. In fact it is likely that most of his subjects could not even afford the paint and canvas, let alone the consummate skills that Hoppe invests in his pictures of them. Nor even, we might assume, would many of them have the wall space in their tiny tenements or hubris in their self-deprecating hearts to hang such a grand testament. We are all (for I am, I believe, still a subject on Curt’s to-paint list) a bit like Manet’s model in Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, inappropriate for this life of leisure and the company of such dandies—invited to the party, but well, with simply nothing to wear. Perhaps like Victorine Meurent—who is the nude in Le Déjeuner as well as Manet’s similarly scandalous Olympia, and later became a painter in her own right—we are willing accomplices, here amidst the aesthetic finery of Hoppe’s old-school grandeur precisely because we don’t belong. We are the misfits, anomalies, and visual pranks along the course of the empire—the gnarly and naked who show up just to do one better than the emperor’s new clothes. Though in a style we might call official, these are not the personae one expects to see in a national portrait gallery, more like the mugs you might come across in the post office. This is not royalty by blood or marriage, but rather by

the inheritance of riches we call community. We do not bow to the queen but may at times bow before queens, and do not hang with nobility at court, though may sport handcuffs for the occasional court appearance. A rogue’s gallery of aesthetic vigilantes who have all mostly captured our hearts and complicated our ways of thinking, if any are not at this moment famous they should be, and were for their time preeminent in our world. That is, for whatever stature they may not share with the leaders of state and industry that is the typical province of portraits, Hoppe has gathered a rare record of the notable as existed in the world before mainstream subsumed the underground: personae celebrated then and even more worthy of celebration today. Vagabonds and visionaries, poets and provocateurs, chronic extroverts and chroniclers, those who support the arts and artists of every manner possible, Hoppe’s world is a delirious demimonde of cultural delinquency and creative determination, a place where centrality is located on the margins and an impossible topography is defined by its inhabitants. By the shorthand of history we have described this all as the Downtown Scene of a certain era, but as times change and places too, the characteristics of time and place are somehow inadequate to the full measure of all the characters there. So who were these people? Well, we knew a few, some famous, others infamous, and now many obscure, but all part of a collective exchange where ideas and sensibilities were rapidly and constantly transmitted like a social dis-ease, and membership was decided by a collective otherness. In a period that allowed a ready access to new media forms with relative affordability, the line between those who were making art and those who were documenting it was a slippery negotiation. Many of the most notable figures here, be they publishers Leonard Abrams and John Holmstrom, who created early periodicals from the scene, the East Village Eye and Punk magazine respectively; the great photographers who captured ephemeral magic, like Roberta Bailey, Sally Davies, Louis Constant Duit, David Godlis, Keith Green, Bobby Grossman, Julia Gorton, Daniel Morel, Marcia Resnick, Jackie Rudin, and Bettie Ringma; videographers like Paul Tschinkel; and filmmakers

Leonard Abrams Writer Editor Filmmaker Publisher East Village Eye Charlie Ahearn Artist Filmmaker John Ahearn Documentarian Sculptor Penny Arcade Poet Actress TheaterMaker

Patti Astor Actress Writer Co-Founder FUN Gallery Massimo Audiello Art Dealer Curator Beth B. Filmmaker Artist Alan Barrows Co-Owner, Civilian Warfare Gallery

Roberta Bailey & Stella Photographer Max Blagg Born in England and reborn in NYC in ’71. He dwells there still, surviving daily Richard Boch Artist Doorman Author Derek Boshier Artist

Fred Braithwaite (Fab 5 Freddy) Artist Filmmaker Hip Hop Pioneer Brian Butterick Performance Artist Pyramid Club RisĂŠ Cale Real Estate Dan Cameron Curator Writer

Monty Cantsin Neoist Open Pop Star HardArt singer Bruce Carleton Artist Cartoonist Punk and Screw Magazines Neke Carson Artist Pianist Writer and all-around nice guy James Chance Musician Contortions James White and the Blacks

such as Charlie Ahearn, Beth B, Coleen Fitzgibbon, Anton Perich, and Amos Poe transformed the uncommonness of our day-to-day into the narratives of our own homegrown fiction. Writers as well, most directly those who wrote about the cultural landscape including Dan Cameron, Anthony Haden-Guest, the publicist Susan Martin, Marc H Miller, Alan Moore, Larry “Ratso” Slonem, and Tom Wolfe, but also Max Blagg and Josh Allen Friedman, and poets Bob Holman and Michael Holman. With their own literary distillations of the zeitgeist, they did much to put into words what often was quite beyond description. Music, so central to the scene as a soundtrack to our lives is represented here by the likes of Monte Cantsin, James Chance, Jane Fire, Arto Lindsay, Terry Mohre, Pat Place, the DJ Min Sanchez, Susan Springfield, Walter Steding, and Ned Sublette, as well as those who helped visualize the music scene, including the photographer and graphic artist Arturo Vega. And of course, the visual artists are abundant— from the work seemingly born on the streets itself with John Ahearn, Fred Brathwaite (Fab 5 Freddy), Linus Coraggio, Al Diaz, Richard Hambleton, Lady Pink (Sandra Fabara), and Lee Quiñones, to studio-based practitioners like Derek Boshier, Bruce Carleton, Mike Cockrill, Scott Covert, Brett De Palma, Jane Dickson, Phyllis Galembo, Martha Henry, Jedd Garet, Robert Goldman, Duncan Hannah, Becky Howland, M. Henry Jones, Stephen Lack, McDermott & McGough, Bernd Naber, Joseph Nechvatal, Tom Otterness,

Cara Perlman, Rick Prol, Elsa Rensaa, Judy Rifka, Walter Robinson, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook, Christy Rupp, Darcy Spitz, Bob Yucikas, and Robin Winters. Many too do not fit so well into the compartments of fine art, whose work has been more performative than plastic, ranging from Joan Marie Moossy to Penny Arcade to Neke Carson to Colette Lumiere. Significant here, because Curt Hoppe’s catalog of creators is about the entire ecosystem that sustained these decades of prolific cultural endeavor, are some of the great enablers and nurturers who did so much to support the arts—the gallery owners and curators, of course—but so too those who ran the clubs and sundry watering holes where the nights came alive, and those less-easy-to-define supporters, be they the dear friend or muse, the art restorer or the sympathetic landlord, people who in old New York would need no title other than mensch: Patti Astor, Massimo Audiello, Alan Barrows, Richard Boch, Brian Butterick, Risé Cale, Diego Cortez, Stefan Eins, Patrick Fox, Sol Fried, Ruth Hoppe, Suzanne Mallouk, Clayton Patterson, Annie Plumb, Ulli Rimkus, Lisa Rosen, Arlene Schloss, Sandra Hale Schulman, Bill Stelling, Kurt Thometz, and Seth Tillett. Divisions and labels as these do not do justice to the fact that everyone was doing everything, creating across disciplines, and in dialogue with all the others doing their own thing…but did we forget anyone? Probably. However, the point is Curt did not, and his art is an insistence on history and a refusal to forget.

Mike Cockrill Artist Linus Corraggio Artist Sculptor Writer Activist Diego Cortez Curator Scott Covert Painter

Sally Davies & The Bun Photographer Painter Brett De Palma Artist Al Diaz Artist Musician Jane Dickson Artist

Louis Constant Duit Artist Photographer Stefan Eins Artist Founder Fashion Moda Jane Fire Musician Artist Erasers Coleen Fitzgibbon Artist Filmmaker

Patrick Fox Art Dealer Gallerist Writer Sol Fried Landlord to the Artists Josh Alan Friedman Author Musician Screw Magazine Phyllis Galembo Artist Photographer Author Masquerader Africa and the Americas

Jedd Garet Artist David Godlis Photographer Author Robert Goldman aka Bobby G Artist Julia Gorton Photographer

Keith Green Editorial portrait photographer Music Literature Fashion Bobby Grossman Artist Official photographer of Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party Loves corn flakes Anthony Haden-Guest Artist Poet Art Critic Reporter Richard Hambleton Artist Shadowman

Duncan Hannah Artist Writer Martha Henry Art Dealer Bob Holman Artist Poet Michael Holman Artist Musician Filmmaker

John Holmstrom Founder of PUNK Magazine Cartoonist Author Curt Hoppe Artist Photographer Ruth Hoppe The LOVE of Curt Hoppe’s life and to whom this book and exhibits are dedicated Becky Howland Artist Co-Founder ABC No Rio

M. Henry Jones Artist Photographer Stephen Lack Artist Filmmaker Arto Lindsay Musician Artist NO Wave DNA Colette Lumiere Artist Performance Installation Victorian Punk

David Walter McDermott Artist Susanne Mallouk and Bella Psychiatrist Psychoanalyst Susan Martin Press Agent Peter McGough and Queenie Artist

Marc H Miller Artist Curator Writer Terry Mohre Father Musician Lyricist Mad Scientist Alan Moore Artist Author Daniel Morel Photojournalist Morel vs. Getty Images

Joan Marie Moossy Writer Performer Bernd Naber Artist Joseph Nechvatal Artist Tom Otterness Artist Sculptor

Clayton Patterson Artist Author Acker Awards Anton Perich Artist Photographer Publisher Filmmaker Cara Perlman Artist Filmmaker Lady Pink (Sandra Fabara) Artist

Pat Place Artist Musician New Yorker Founding member Contortions Bush Tetras Annie Plumb Art Dealer Amos Poe Artist Filmmaker Writer Rick Prol Artist

Lee QuiĂąones Artist Elsa Rensaa Artist Marcia Resnick Fine Art Photographer Provocateur Judy Rifka Painter Traversing space, shape, and time

Ulli Rimkus Owner, Max Fish Bettie Ringma Photographer Artist Walter Robinson Artist James Romberger & Marguerite Van Cook Artists Authors

Lisa Rosen Painting Conservator Jackie Rudin Downtown Chronicler Photographer Christy Rupp Artist Min (Thometz) Sanchez Artist Mixologist Mudd Club Danceteria Club 57

Arleen Schloss Artist Performance A’s Sandra Hale Schulman Arts Writer Curator Larry “Ratso” Schulman Author Actor Singer Renaissance Jew Darcy Spitz Artist 98 Bowery Neighbor

Susan Springfield Artist Musician Erasers Judge Walter G Steding Artist Performance Electric-Violinist Light Show Bill Stelling No Mo FUN Love Among the Ruins Ned Sublette Musician Singer Composer Writer

Kurt Thometz Author Private Librarian Antiquarian Seth Tillett Designer Paul Tschinkel Filmmaker Documentarian Artist New York Arturo Vega Artist My friend and the 1st Downtown Portrait

Richard Hambleton and Arturo Vega Robin Winters Cultural Worker Committed Amateur Tom Wolf Artist Art Historian Bob Yucikas Artist 98 Bowery Neighbor of 43 Years Opposite: Patty Astor with her portrait

Arturo Vega 98 Bowery studio visit with paintings of Kurt Thometz and Richard Hambleton

Curt Hoppe, 2012

96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Arturo Vega, 2010

96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Family Reunion Walter Robinson

Curt Hoppe’s larger-than-lifesize painting project is inspired from over 100 photo-portraits of an idiosyncratic segment of the downtown New York art crowd. He’d be a fool to complete it, though I somehow imagine that he will. Right now, in early 2019, on the eve of a double exhibition at Bernarducci Gallery in Chelsea and Howl! Happening on the Lower East Side, he has finished 24 paintings, each measuring 96 x 70 inches. Also ready is a complete set of the series’ black-and-white archival ink photographs printed on watercolor paper. Masterfully done with an airbrush—typically an illustrator’s tool—in continuous tones of black, white, and gray, the paintings are enlargements of photographs the artist takes in his Bowery studio. Though admittedly inspired by photorealism (he’s closely studied early Chuck Close and observed Jerry Ott at work) Hoppe rejects the classification, I think because his pictorial exactitude is inspired by real life rather than the shiny surface of photo emulsion. In any case, Hoppe’s method carries with it a certain presumption of scientific objectivity, or at least of a close and patient observation, appropriate for an undertaking that is documentary as well as esthetic. Hoppe’s double exhibition is a sociological as well as an artistic event. Just who are the members of this idiosyncratic downtown bohemia? Originally, several decades ago, they were the young inhabitants of the low-rent neighborhoods around the Bowery, where Hoppe made his studio, then as now. My adjective of choice would be “scrappy,” describing a creative community on the brink of the 80s art boom and the transformative wave of gentrification. Hoppe’s first subject was Arturo Vega, the Ramones art director and patron of the Howl! Happening art space that is co-sponsoring the present exhibition (Vega died in 2013). The subsequent lineup includes longtime hipsters like Colette and Anthony Haden-Guest, East Village types like Patti Astor and Richard Hambleton, Colab members such as Bobby G and Jane Dickson, and graffiti writers like Fab Five Freddy and Pink. What began as a few paintings “snowballed into my yearbook,” Hoppe said, adding that he envisioned the show as an interactive experience, where the artworks might

serve as backdrops for the people they depicted. “Kind of like a family reunion,” he said, something that would make everyone feel good. The project is very much a reunion, as opposed to a time-machine visit to a youthful past, since the gang is all portrayed as they are now, today, in late-middle- to late-late-middle age. The conceit of documenting an entire community a third of a century after it was formed is hardly unheard of, but it seems particularly topical in a postmodern economy of a massively expanding cultural sector that welcomes creative work. Could we be waiting not for the founding of a new cooperative art space as much as a collaborative retirement home in Miami? Hoppe’s project is revelatory of a specific group of people, championing their togetherness and longevity first, and then their historical importance…if the group can be allowed to discard briefly its modesty. Like any community, Hoppe’s extended family is bound by common desires, a common specialized knowledge in a specific location at a specific historical moment. This one won’t last forever, of course; implicit in it is the trauma of advancing age. But you can feel the moment. Not nostalgia for lost youth, with all the desire and ambition that defines artists at the beginning of their careers. Rather we have here a celebration of history as a lived possession that when mastered by artistic maturity makes vanity a thing of the past. “We are cooler now,” Hoppe insists. “It’s a question of confidence. No one has anything to prove.” Confidence is at the heart of Hoppe’s project, demonstrated formally through the size of the paintings, which are literally larger than life. Their “world stage” is the artist’s studio, where Hoppe poses his subjects against a white photographer’s background, artificially isolating them for their individual moment as he hints at the existential and esthetic isolation of the studio…and the studio’s mythic status as a tabula rasa. Hoppe posits the studio as the site of unalienated labor, where any tension between artists and their works is resolved, as the stark contrast between black and white is softened and blended by the blurred edge of the freehand airbrush. This mature confidence speaks in the individual poses, which often seem to strain out towards the life and world of the spectator. It is the reward of bohemia with nothing to prove.

Charlie and John Ahearn, 2011 96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Patti Astor, 2012

96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Penny Arcade, 2011­---2012 96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Fred Braithwaite (Fab 5 Freddy), 2012 96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Diego Cortez, 2011

96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

James Chance, 2016

96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Brett De Palma, 2015

96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Jane Dickson, 2018

96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Coleen Fitzgibbon (In Progress), 2019 96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

John Holmstrom, 2011---2012 96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Richard Hambleton, 2011 96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Arto Lindsay, 2014---2015 96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Colette Lumiere, 2011

96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Marc H Miller, 2016

96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Tom Otterness, 2011

96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Clayton Patterson, 2010---2011 96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Lady Pink (Sandra Fabara), 2012 96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Lee QuiÑones, 2018

96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Marcia Resnick, 2012

96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Walter Robinson, 2016

96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Kurt Thometz, 2011

96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Robin Winters, 2012---2013 96 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas


Lalo Quiñones Jane Friedman Donovan Welsh BG Hacker BOARD OF ADVISORS

Dan Cameron Curt Hoppe Carlo McCormick Marc H Miller Maynard Monrow Lisa Brownlee James Rubio Debora Tripodi HOWL! BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Bob Perl, President Bob Holman, Vice President BG Hacker, Treasurer Nathaniel Siegel, Secretary Riki Colon Jane Friedman Chi Chi Valenti Marguerite Van Cook, President Emeritus


Elisabeth Bernstein Will Davis Ilan Greenberg Jon & Marvin Siegel, Soho Art Materials Tri-Mar Stretchers Josh Starcher John Rienbold Larry & Elisa Frankel Katherine Michaelsen Jane, Ted, Corrine, Sam and the entire crew at Howl And Everyone who made it up the steep stairs at 98 Bowery and allowed me to take their portrait. As always TEAM WORK and, honestly, some of the best conversations I have ever had over a cup of coffee. And especially, my beautiful Ruth, the Love of my life. She saw me through this dream. This is dedicated to her.

Curt Hoppe: Downtown Portraits Published on the occasion of the exhibition April 24–May 22, 2019 Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project © 2019 Howl Arts, Inc. Howl! Archive Publishing Editions (Howl! A/P/E) Volume 1, No. 31 ISBN: 978-1-7338785-1-7 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Howl! A/P/E. © 2019 Curt Hoppe © 2019 Marc H Miller © 2019 Carlo McCormick © 2019 Walter Robinson Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project 6 East 1st St. NY, NY 10003 917 475 1294 Editor: Ted Riederer Copy Editor: Jorge Clar Design: Jeff Streeper

In Memoriam of our Beloved Board Member, Brian (Hattie Hathaway) Butterick

HOWL! HAPPENING: AN ARTURO VEGA PROJECT FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Jane Friedman Gallery Director: Ted Riederer Director of Education: Katherine Cheairs Program Coordinator: Sam O’Hana Collection Manager: Corinne Gatesmith Production Team: Ramsey Chahine, Josh Nierodzinski Marketing and Public Relations: Susan Martin Documentarian: Yoon Gallery design: Space ODT/Teddy Kofman Creative Consultant: Some Serious Business Gallery Photographer: Jason Wyche

The Arturo Vega Project: Jane Friedman