8: Artists + Galleries
Artists were organizing too. Some had been living in studios in SoHo illegally since the early 1960's, transforming the raw open spaces abandoned by industry into cheap (or free) lofts for living and working. Faced with the threat of eviction, artists and art supporters organized and fought for their right to keep these loft spaces.
Meeting of Soho Artists Association Planning Committee, prior to legalization, 1970. Archives of American Art
The roll call of organizers in Artists Against the Expressway included many names now famous in the art scene: Roy Lichtenstein, Bob Rauschenburg, Don Judd, Yvonne Rainer, Lucy Lippard.
SoHo Artists Association Records, 1969. Archives of American Art.
From Life magazine, SoHo Artist Association Records, Clippings 1970-1978. Archives of American Art.
Jasper Johns, Flag, 1969 (Moratorium), offset lithograph. Found on Artnet.
Roy Lichtenstein, Greene Street Mural, 1983, magna and silkscreen wallpaper, 18 feet x 95 feet 81/2 inches. Found at The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.

Trends in the art world were starting to favor larger pieces. Canvasses, sculptures, and performative works became too big for many of the established uptown galleries, and the art market moved to the large lofts like those on the Greene Street block. The Castelli Gallery moved from East 77th Street to 142 Greene Street. Many now iconic artists exhibited at the Castelli gallery: Andy Warhol, Richard Serra, Julian Schnabel, Jasper Johns, Robert Mapplethorpe.
Castelli Gallery showing Richard Serra, from Leo Castelli, Last Show, 142 Greene Street. New York: Leo Castelli Gallery, 1988.
Sculpture by Richard Longo at Castelli Gallery, 142 Greene Street, 1983. Found at The Line website.
City authorities ultimately created a program that legalized lofts in specific blocks of SoHo for artist use. The Artist in Residence (A.I.R.) program had size restrictions, however, and it also required tenants to officially register as "artists." Many refused, asking: who is the city to define the artist?
Artist Certification, 1970-1971. SoHo Artists Association Records, Archives of American Art.
The SoHo Newsletter in 1971 called the restrictions and requirements for artists residency "a four-alarm drag." The spirit of the community who built out their own lofts by hand was one of rebellion rather than compliance. The city did not enforce the restrictions, so the artists won in the end — in spite of rather than because of the city program.
Soho Newsletter, 1971. SoHo Artists Assocation Records, Archives of American Art.
Hand Movie, Yvonne Rainer (member of Artists Against the Expressway), 1966. Currently in MoMA collection. Found at Turner Classic Movies
Sylvia Whitman: Passing Through, "Green Hands", Sonnabend Gallery, 1977. Performance at 420 W Broadway, 2 blocks from Greene Street block. Found at Art in America.
Bill Bleckley, Song for a Sliding Board, performed at 98 Greene Street, 1971. 98 Greene was a loft and gallery space run by Holly Solomon. Found at Bill Bleckley.
Richard Serra, Throwing Lead in Leo Castelli's Warehouse, 1968. Found at C4 Gallery.
Artists re-created Greene Street as a home for their work.
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