Lo scorso weekend il grande Ricky Powell ha inaugurato una (ormai) rara personale alla David Kesting di New York intitolata ‘NYC 1985 – Bushwick 2013′. In mostra fino al 9 Giugno tra gli spazi della galleria c’è una delezione di scatti realizzati da “The Lazy Hustler” tra 1985 e il 2013 che mette a confronto epoche e zone diverse della GrandeMela attraverso una serie di ritratti e istantanee ai soggetti più disparati, da Andy Warhol alla proprietaria del proto-sneakershop “Magic Shoes”, passando per RUN DMC, senza tetto etc. Sopra una foto di Powell in posa con Warhol scattata nel 1986, sotto alcune delle foto in mostra, magari più avanti anche qualche foto dell’inaugurazione.
As the recession of the early 1980’s gave way to the wall street excess the decade is known for, the streets of downtown New York were flush with inspired graffiti from a new generation of artists. The poetic, wall written musings of Samo© and rhythmic patterns of Haring’s subway chalk paintings are excellent examples of that new art form. These visual artists accompanied or actively participated in the sounds of a new style of musicians, noise bands and punk rock- hip hop fusions. The term “famous for being famous” created a mystique surrounding this urban revolution launched in the wasteland below 14th street. Scharf, Haring and Basquiat were the logical step from the father of pop art, Warhol. In the same way as the Beastie Boys, known for their punk rock swagger were learned in the school of hip hop instructed by Run DMC.
Bushwick today represents a strong similarity to New York in the mid 80’s. Our country is emerging from a long term recession. The then downtown scene, a place where desolate streets hide art events, performances and late night music behind steel loft doors, is mirrored in the urban wasteland of industrial East Williamsburg and Bushwick. A familiar terrain where like in the decades past, everyone knows everyone, everyone is an artist, actor, writer or musician or possibly a combination thereof. Here and now, as was then, an artist, denied exhibition at the gallery plies their trade with spray paint and wheatpaste, capable of going as far as their creativity will take them. Scharf is the new father figure, showing the new generation tenacity with his late night graffiti walks, as deftly as his installs showcases in a blue chip Chelsea gallery.
It is for this reason, and in this context, that we reflect on the renowned photojournalist work of Ricky Powell. Far from paparazzi, far from fly on the wall, Powell was the peer these artists spent time with. A photographer whose candor reflects in his subjects the intimacy that was Downtown New York. An intimacy that is now found in the Bushwick Scene.