Basquiat and NoHo

In the late 1980’s, Jean-Michel Basquiat lived and worked at 57 Great Jones Street in Manhattan. This studio space owned by Andy Warhol served as a kind of incubator for young artistic talent. At the time, the NoHo neighborhood and landscape offered up-and-coming artists the opportunity for low rents, lots of space, and the freedom to practice their craft. It was a gritty neighborhood, sometimes ripe with vice, and the two surely influenced each other – NoHo was a muse for the artists, but the artists forever altered the area. Today things in NoHo have changed dramatically, but the neighborhood has not forgotten its past – it remains a source of artistic inspiration and activity.

In July 2016, Village Preservation installed a plaque at 57 Great Jones to commemorate Basquiat’s life and work. But what exactly did Basquiat and his ilk mean for the neighborhood? And where is such a New York neighborhood today – one that nurtures the avant-garde, providing the space and financial freedom necessary to bloom, influence, and grow? In conversation with moderator Ayanna Jessica Legros, panelists Patti Astor, Naiomy Guerrero, Chaédria LaBouvier, and Yasmin Ramirez, Ph.D, will explore and demystify this layered question.

Ayanna Legros is an interdisciplinary scholar, educator, and cultural symposium producer. Her expertise is Haitian, Afro-Latinx and circum-Caribbean identities within larger questions of activism, memory and migration. As a Henry MacCracken Fellow at New York University (M.A., Africana Studies), she co-founded the BASQUIAT: STILL FLY @ 55 Project, a dialogue series about Jean-Michel Basquiat’s life, legacy and work. The series showcased events at Museum of Modern Art, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York University, and WBAI Radio. She is co-producer of the
“#Blacklivesmatter in Latin America” panel series and recently co-published “A Hemispheric Approach to Contemporary Black Activism: A NACLA Forum” in NACLA Report on the Americas. She has taught at CUNY Guttman and CUNY Hostos in English and Black Studies. She is an alum of the ICA Fellowship through Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) and a Co-Curator for Afro Latino Festival 2017. Ms. Legros is a Doctoral student at Duke University’s Department of History.

Patti Astor is an American performer who was a key actress in New York City underground films of the 1970s, and the East Village art scene of the 1980s. Astor went on to be a co-founder of the FUN Gallery in early 1981 with partner Bill Stelling, an innovative space as they were the first to give graffiti artists one-man shows. This tenement storefront gallery, was the first of the 1980s East Village galleries, and specialized in showing graffiti artists, like Fab 5 Freddy, LEE (Quinones), Zephyr, Dondi and Futura 2000. It also gave important shows to Kenny Scharf (in 1981), Jean-Michel
Basquiat (November 1982), and Keith Haring (February, 1983). The gallery closed in 1985, by which time many other East Village galleries had opened, the interest in graffiti painters in the art world has subsided, and rents in the East Village were rising dramatically.

Naiomy Guerrero is a Dominican-American writer and arts advocate. She is the founding editor of Gallery Girl NYC a spanglish exploration of the New York City art world via social media. Her research focuses primarily on U.S. based Latinx artists, their contributions to the canon of American art history and the development of the Latinx art market. She studied in both the US and the Dominican Republic throughout childhood, and was raised Wild Thornberrys style traveling between the Bronx, Washington Heights, and the Dominican Republic. Naiomy is a Posse Foundation scholar, received her BA in Art History from DePauw University, and pursued graduate-level coursework at New York University. She is an arts contributor for Artsy and has worked at various art institutions including El Museo Del Barrio, Creative Time, Marc Jancou Contemporary, Walt Disney Studios, and David LaChapelle studios.

Chaédria LaBouvier is a writer, activist and Basquiat scholar. As a contributing writer for Elle, she was the first to write about police brutality in mainstream women’s magazines Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Vice, Apollo Magazine and Art Market Monitor. LaBouvier is also a co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality. After 13 years of research, LaBouvier created Basquiat’s Defacement: The Project, which is an online resource on Basquiat’s most important painting, 1983’s Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart) and its history. The three part mission of The Project is to bring the painting and its scholarship to the public through exhibition, an expanded website and discourse. She is a graduate of Williams College and holds a MFA in Screenwriting from the University of California, Los Angeles

Yasmin Ramirez holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the Graduate Center of the City of New York. Born in Brooklyn, she was active in the downtown art scene of the early 1980s as a club kid, gallery assistant, independent curator, and art critic for the East Village Eye. Attracted to street art and hip hop, Yasmin Ramirez became acquainted with many emerging artists and writers that are now held as icons of the 1980s, including Jean Michel Basquiat. Currently an independent curator, Dr. Ramirez’s has collaborated on curatorial projects with The Bronx Museum, El Museo Del Barrio; The Loisaida Center; The Studio Museum in Harlem, Franklin Furnace and Taller Boricua. Her critically acclaimed exhibitions and panels include: Martin Wong: Human Instamatic (2015); Presente: The Young Lords in New York (2015); The Puerto Rican Art Workers and the Construction of the Nuyorican Art Movement (2014); Re-Membering Loisaida: On Archiving and the Lure of the Retro Lens (2009); “Esto A Veces Tiene Nombre: Latin@ Art Collectives in a Post-Movement Millennium (2008); The Boricua in Basquiat (2005); Voices From Our Communities: Perspectives on a Decade of Collecting at El Museo del Barrio (2000); Pressing the Point: Parallel Expressions in the Graphic Arts of the Chicano and Puerto Rican Movements (1999). Yasmin Ramirez’s published essays include: Mi Querido Barrio: A Virtual Tour of East Harlem Through Time (2016); The Young Lords Way (2015) Snap Shots: A Short History of the Association of Hispanic Arts (2013); The Creative Class of Color in New York (2009); “The Activist Legacy of Puerto Rican Artists in New York and the Art Heritage of Puerto Rico” (2007); “Puerto Rican Light: To Allora and Calzadilla” (2006); “Nuyorican Visionary: Jorge Soto and the evolution of an Afro-Taino aesthetic at Taller Boricua” (2005); and “Parallel Lives, Striking Differences: Notes on Chicano and Puerto Rican Graphic Arts of the 1970s” (1999). Yasmin Ramirez is currently writing a book on art movements and collectives in East Harlem.

Saturday, July 15, 2017
4:00 pm

La Mama La Galleria, 47 Great Jones St