From 2007 to 2016, the New Museum developed and presented the Bowery Artist Tribute, a multifaceted celebration and exploration of the New Museum’s new neighborhood coinciding its move to the Bowery in 2007. The Bowery Artist Tribute documented the presence of artists on this famed thoroughfare through a series of oral histories, online resources, exhibitions, public programs and publications. Focused on researching the history of artists and art production on the Bowery, the project presented a dynamic art history of the area.
Central to the Bowery Artist Tribute were ongoing efforts to record oral histories of artists who lived and worked along the Bowery and its outskirts. The project featured interviews with Sol Lewitt’s wife Carol LeWitt; poets Hettie Jones and Bob Holman; art historian Kellie Jones; and artists Vito Acconci, Lynda Benglis, David Diao, Inka Essenhigh, Charles Hinman, James Rosenquist, and Billy Sullivan. The interviews demonstrate that visual artists were not creating art in isolation. Performers, dancers, musicians, filmmakers, writers and poets – as well as artists who defied categorization – also thrived on the Bowery. Access to interviews and research materials created through the project was provided via a custom website with an interactive online map illustrating the rich artistic legacy of the neighborhood through locations of artists’ studios and biographical information on artists who lived and worked in the area, as well as examples of artworks created on the Bowery.
Over the course of the project, the New Museum published four accompanying Bowery Artist Tribute volumes of articles, artist biographies, oral history excerpts, and documentary photographs of artists interviewed for the project. Featured articles included a tribute to Sol LeWitt by Adrian Piper , the public program series “Art On the Bowery” , and an East Village Galleries map . Each publication additionally featured an index of Bowery artists with studio locations and the dates they were active on the Bowery.
In 2012, the New Museum brought this research into the gallery, presenting the group exhibition “Come Closer: Art Around the Bowery, 1969–1989,” which took the Bowery as subject, site, and center for creative ingenuity in the 1970s and 1980s. Drawing upon the Bowery Artist Tribute archive and the online archive of Marc H. Miller, 98bowery.com, the exhibition featured original artwork, ephemera, and performance documentation by over fifteen artists who lived and worked on or near the Bowery in New York. Curated by former Education Associate Ethan Swan, the exhibition included works by artists such as Barbara Ess, Coleen Fitzgibbon, Keith Haring, John Holmstrom, Curt Hoppe, Colette Lumiere, Marc H. Miller, Adrian Piper, Adam Purple, Dee Dee Ramone, Joey Ramone, Marcia Resnick, Bettie Ringma, Christy Rupp, Arleen Schloss, Charles Simonds, Eve Sonneman, Billy Sullivan, Paul Tschinkel, Anton van Dalen, Arturo Vega, Robin Winters, and Martin Wong.
To provide a more expansive reading of performance, exhibition, and studio spaces on the Bowery, the “Come Closer” incorporated posters, snapshot photographs, and publications from the period, and was accompanied by public programs that thoughtfully elaborated important themes of community and neighborhood through a series of talks, screenings, and concerts. All of the participating artists pursued DIY practices, pushing generations of institutional rigidity aside for a diversification of materials, gestures, and voices. As this influx of artists helped shaped the Bowery, the neighborhood helped shape generations of artists.
The Bowery Artist Tribute was an initiative of the Education and Public Programs staff of the New Museum providing further onsite and online resources, publications, public programming and a presentation in the museum’s Resource Center throughout the course of the New Museum’s first decade on the Bowery . The project served as a vibrant connecting point for the museum’s visitors and neighbors to tap into the history of the neighborhood, its creative residents, and its contributions to contemporary culture.
As of 2019, the New Museum Archives has undertaken to preserve this project and expand access for scholarship by digitizing and transcribing the full video recordings of oral histories conducted over the course of the project and by capturing the original Bowery Artist Tribute website with, a high fidelity web archiving tool developed by affiliate organization Rhizome.