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July 11 - August 11

Howl! Happening
6 East 1st Street
New York City, NY 10003 + Google Map

Opening reception: Thursday, July 11, 5–8 PM

Howl! Arts | Howl! Archive is pleased to present Downtown Portraits Revisited, an exhibition featuring Curt Hoppe’s large-scale realist paintings and black-and-white photographs of New York City artist friends. These were first exhibited five years ago at Howl! Happening in conjunction with Frank Bernarducci Gallery. Since then, we’ve experienced not only the loss of some of the artists who are subjects in his series, but significant changes in our daily lives due to the recent viral pandemic.

Curt has enjoyed a successful 45-year career driven by meaningful relationships with pioneering downtown creators. While many of the artists, writers, musicians, activists, and art entrepreneurs appearing in the series are now well known, this project was conceived not as a hall of fame but as a personal homage. Hoppe has been inspired not only by his subject’s youthful achievements but also by their lifelong perseverance and creativity.

“It all started with Arturo,” says Hoppe of the late Arturo Vega, his longtime friend. His larger-than-life painting of Vega, who was both the inspiration for Howl! Happening and the subject of the first portrait in the Downtown Portraits series, will be featured in the exhibition.

What started as one large realist painting became a nine-year project for Hoppe. As a longtime downtown New York denizen, he pays tribute to the core group of artists who welcomed and guided him since the mid 70s, continuing to inspire him as both an artist and a member of a vibrant creative community. “I wanted the exhibition to be forward-looking,” Hoppe says. “These artists found a way to survive and to thrive, and their wisdom continues to have a profound impact on today’s culture. We’re cooler now than we were back then. Our lives are on our faces.”

Copies of the Downtown Portraits catalog published in 2019 will be available for sale. The catalog features photographs and paintings, along with essays by Marc H. Miller, Walter Robinson, and others. It examines the cultural themes and community that defined downtown New York in the 1970s and 1980s.

Links to two great articles on Downtown Portraits:

Link to trailer of Paul Tschinkel’s ART/new york documentary on Downtown Portraits

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