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The ChiBeCa Project: Portraits of a Neighborhood

Frontrunner Gallery
59 Franklin Street, 646-675-6727
Tribeca / Downtown
April 19 - April 30, 2012
Reception: Thursday, April 19, 6 - 9 PM
Web Site

The ChiBeCa Project is a portrait series documenting twenty residents, predominantly artists and small business owners, living and working on the edge of lower Manhattan. Framed by Chinatown to the east and TriBeCa to the west, the neighborhood deserves its own name: ChiBeCa. For decades participants in the arts community have inhabited ChiBeCa, one of the few areas where one can still afford a studio. This unique pocket in Manhattan reflects intermingling cultures, dedicated artistic practice, and diverse definitions of “making it” in New York City.

ChiBeCa is a modest interruption to the activity surrounding it. The southern most point of this self-proclaimed district is Worth Street. The New York City Health Department, Federal Plaza, and AT&T Tower are the foundations of the administrative hot-spot beyond the border. Church Street holds down the western extreme of ChiBeCa. Taxicab stands, cheap Pakistani and Mexican fare, and the TriBeCa Grand Hotel are windows into the residential nature of the TriBeCa. Canal Street lies to the north of ChiBeCa and is home to banks, jewelry shops, imported electronics, counterfeit handbags, and fake Rolex watches. Chinatown’s commercial focus and flurry of activity rests just beyond that border. Lafayette Street supports ChiBeCa as its eastern border, littered with dumplings and Vietnamese groceries. Formerly known as the Five Points and home to the oldest prison in Manhattan known at the Tombs, this area reaffirms the extensive history of this area.

Cortlandt Alley runs through the heart of ChiBeCa from Canal Street to Leonard Street. The timeless alley is a testament to New York’s history, riddled with architectural eccentricities, rusting fire escapes, and ancient grafitti. Cortlandt Alley was also home to the Mudd Club from 1978 to 1983. The joint music venue and art gallery seduced the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, and Lou Reed. The no-wave and punk scenes established in Cortlandt Alley are mentioned in songs by the Talking Heads and The Ramones. Cortlandt Alley has been commemorated in films such as The Highlander, Crocodile Dundee, Basquiat, Addicted to Love, and Small Time Crooks.

Artists and residents featured in the project include:

Edward Bass, Corinne Beardsley, Peter Bellamy, Ross Bleckner, Oscar Boyson, Doran Danoff, Michael Fasciano, Michiyo Fukushima, Lafayette Bar and Grill Owners, Victor Matthews, Cecilia Motwani, Casey Neistat, John Peet, Alex Schuchard, Nev Schulman, Edward Symes, and Peter Tunney.
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