NYC Gallery Exhibit of Punk & Post-Punk Memorabilia Captures Essence of Influential Musical Era

Posted by Billyjam, August 20, 2011 09:25am | Post a Comment
When recently in New York I was fortunate to catch a short run punk & post-punk themed gallery exhibit that included some wonderful posters, flyers, and other memorabilia of this music from the mid 70's through the early '80's. Titled Rude and Reckless: Punk/Post Punk Graphics 1976 - 82 this one-month only exhibit at the Kasher Steven Gallery on W 23rd St in the Chelsea district, that closes this week but is rumored to be coming to the West Coast sometime in the future, is a most engaging collection for anyone with even a passing interest in this influential time period in music. Simultaneously on display in the same space is the related Laura Levine: Musicians photo exhibit that overlaps some of this same period but whose timeline runs up to a decade later.

This photography section of the exhibit is credited exclusively to NYC music photographer Laura Levine who reportedly started out by talking her way into punk clubs and their backstage areas with a camera slung round her neck and a fake press pass in hand. Within no time she was a legit member of the press working as photographer for the likes of the The New York Rocker, Village Voice, and Rolling Stone. Many of her photos on display (nearly all black and white) intimately capture that famed early 80's Downtown New York scene; a world that included artists and musicians from all backgrounds and genres. Photos include Afrika Bambaataa, an early days 1982 Madonna, the Beastie Boys and Run DMC together in a group shot, John Doe and Exene Cervenka (during their X days), Joey Ramone, and The Clash.
Meanwhile the Rude and Reckless: Punk/Post-Punk Graphics, 1976–82 portion of the gallery includes two hundred plus items on display. As well as posters and flyers (there's a great one from the Mabuhay Gardens in SF that featured the DKs, Angst, Toxic Reasons, and the short-lived talented local band the Fried Abortions) are fanzines, flyers, clothing, stickers, and punk buttons/badges.

The punk and post-punk artists celebrated in these artifacts include the Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Adverts, The Stranglers, Circle Jerks, Gang of Four, The Jam, The Cure, Killing Joke, The Buzzcocks, Jinx,  X-Ray Spex, and the Slits. With both Poly Styrene and Ari Up of X-Ray and the Slits respectively having died in recent months the posters of the latter two bands packed extra meaning.

One section of the exhibit, which preceded the punk era by a few years but musically helped set the groundwork for punk and post-punk, was the wall with posters featuring Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and David Bowie. Of these was a poster from what must have been an amazing show at Winterland, San Francisco on the Halloween weekend of 1972 when David Bowie came to the States in his then new Ziggy Stardust persona with the Spiders from Mars.(including Mick Ronson on lead guitar)

Bowie shared with the bill with non other than San Francisco's own Sylvester and Phlorescent Leech and Eddie (aka Flo & Eddie). Best of all this amazing booking only cost $4 which even by 1972 standards was not outrageous. However, according to one review of the Oct 27 and 28th night shows that I tracked down online by Michael Collins Morton, the turnout was extremely low but the performance was amazing.

Relevant Tags

Post-punk (11), Punk (70), X Ray Spex (3)