Poster for The Real Estate Show by Becky Howland.
By Ed Litvak
The James Fuentes Gallery has announced a fascinating show taking place next month celebrating a groundbreaking moment in the Lower East Side’s history of art and activism. Here’s a portion of the press release:
James Fuentes is honored to announce its forthcoming exhibition which will revisit a seminal exhibition called The Real Estate Show, which took place in 1980 at 123 Delancey Street. Organized by Colab, a group comprised of artists and activists to collectively generate exhibition opportunities, funding and resources or artists, The Real Estate Show took place in a city owned building that the organizers and artists utilized without permission from the city. The exhibition aimed to deal with what they saw as a real estate crisis in New York City for the non-‐wealthy, the group dedicated the exhibition to Elizabeth Mangum, an African American woman killed by police and marshals as she resisted eviction in Flatbush.
The Real Estate Show ultimately led to the birth of the anarchist art center, ABC No Rio, at 156 Rivington St. The new exhibition, titled, “The Real Estate Show Was Then: 1980,” will include many works from the original installation, films and related events at the James Fuentes Gallery, 55 Delancey St., Cuchiritos Gallery in the Essex Street Market and ABC No Rio. It takes place April 4-27 and is tied to the first annual Lower East Side History Month. The programming at Cuchifritos and ABC No Rio extends into the first week of May.
The project is especially relevant today. The space at 123 Delancey St. is part of the former Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. One year from now, developers of the new Essex Crossing residential and retail development will break ground on the six acre site. Thirty years ago, the artists were told they could not use the vacant building on Delancey Street because the parcel was poised for development. Decades later, it’s finally happening.
We’re preparing a more detailed online story concerning The Real Estate Show, as well as a report for our April print magazine. Click here to see the full press release, including a listing of artists involved.