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July 6th, 2005

SoHo Redux: NY in the 70’s: The Work of Photographer Allan Tannenbaum

by D. Clark MacPherson

It was like meeting someone at a high school reunion, except that we had never met. The parallel lives we spent in SoHo during the 60’s and 70’s were brought together by Allan Tannenbaum’s book of photographs lying between our coffee mugs at the Cupping Room Caf?  right in the midst of where it all had happened. There were photos of West Broadway in a snowstorm with little to tell the viewer that just around that particular corner lived an artist named Lois, who would hang from the third floor of her illegal loft on Broome Street where she painted wild 8 foot canvasses and screamed at her landlord. A few blocks away were the Bob Bolles sculptures that the artist implanted in the asphalt as he did odd jobs at the Broome Street Bar and McSorley’s. Bolles earring and bandana were his trademark,s along with some heavy lifting (both iron and his mug.) Artists carry their paintings along Prince Street on the way to an impromptu installation, among the photos, demonstrators carry anti-war placards in the streets, and “happenings” are captured in lofts where SoHo’s insiders paint the bodies of their nude models who are eager to be installed in avante garde immortality.

Tannenbaum captured moments with Jack Nicholson, Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and Steve Rubell.

All of this SoHo nostalgia and photos of the way that SoHo really was is part of the work that photographer Allan Tannenbaum shares with us in New York in the Seventies, the first of his two books (the second is simply entitled New York).

Those of you who were not here, as?Ǭ?Ǭ Tannenbaum describes it, before SoHo became a shopping mall, will enjoy the visual beauty and truth of what we all still seek to preserve. The guerilla art and the spontaneity were here and now we must fight City Hall to keep it.

Tannenbaum was a staff photographer for the now defunct SoHo News in the 70’s and early 80’s (before it was bought and mismanaged by an English company) – and he fortunately saw fit to retain the rights to his work. Most of what he has published is a memoir of those days at SoHo News and his experiences at places like the Mudd Club, a nightclub on White Street at a time when the underground nightlife thrived on the artistic joie de vive of that era. Sections of work like “Mondo Art” and “Man God Law” and “Nightlife” are worth the small investment in owning this book.

For further info on Tannenbaum’s work, you can visit his website: sohoblues.com Check out his show at Tribute.

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | New York

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