Clayton Patterson Captured the Lower East Side
It is a poor man's game to lament the gentrification of the Manhattan's Lower East Side.
The L.E.S. was a gloriously, criminally negligent community tying its universal tattooed arm off into one future oblivion of creative destruction, punk-guilty contamination and reckless, wreckful abandon -- an indulgent heaven, a beautiful hell.
But, more than anything, it was reality. It was a home. It was a community forced together by isolation or rejection of the outside that found a common connection.
Like the one found between object and camera. Like the one Clayton Patterson found.
Clayton has lived on the L.E.S. since its hellday and spent his days documenting the degradation and self-imposed incarceration around him. His pictures are a photo album of the most delicious and deliriously dysfunctional family of quite some time and you are forced to look, knowing that in their crazy lies a taste of your own sanity.
Today, Clayton has no illegal tattoo parlors to snap. There exist very few active gang members, even fewer drag queens, prostitutes and hard-core racist Doc Martin wearing skinheads. Today is the day that being there, being there then, pays off. Today is the day that a major art gallery writes a check and puts Clayton Patterson right next to Earsnot (shown below): two proud hold-outs of a bygone time of dizzying depths who know enough to earn what they earned.
The A Life Gallery is presenting Clayton Patterson: L.E.S. Captured until November 8.
Read more about the exhibit in this recent NY Times article.