Where They Can Go And Dream
As Virgil Thomson said that the visual artists are close kissing cousins. They’re not in exactly the same field, but their aesthetic concerns are close enough that we have lots to talk about. And back in the 80s, when I was in my 20s, we had a circle of people that would talk about the performances we’d seen, the circle I was in with the visual artists Robert Longo and Cindy Sherman, Roselee Goldberg, the performance artist Eric Bogosian and Troy Brauntuch and others. We’d all get together and we’d see a performance, and then we’d be at the bar where we all live, talking about it.1
And I have to say, I have to underline, that this period was before the internet, so we didn’t have this ease of communication at distance that we do today.2 And so, what society did back then, and indeed in the 19th century, was find — artists tended to find a place where they could go and dream. And for artists in New York, in the 60s, 70s and 80s, that place started out in SoHo.3 Why was it SoHo, because you could get — rents were so cheap. In 1970, I had a loft there for $180 a month, 1200 sq. feet. I mean no wonder choreographers, sculptors — choreographers like Yvonne Rainer, sculptors like Richard Serra, composers like Philip Glass and La Monte Young would move down there, because their rents were cheap, and also because you could perform in the lofts.4
So, we’d all go and see a performance by a Joan Jonas or Yvonne Rainer in the evening, and then we go to Magoo’s which was this bar everyone hung out in, and talk about it. And then the morning after I’d be at Princeton, West Broadway, the Puerto Rican — when there was a Puerto Rican breakfast place there, and there would be Richard Serra and Philip Glass talking about the performances that happened the night before. And there was this exchange of ideas that were so important, because all of us lived in this 20 square block radius.