Clayton Patterson Revisits the Pyramid Club with ‘Portraits’ Exhibit
The Pyramid Club of yesteryear is revived, albeit temporarily.
Indeed, prolific photographer and activist Clayton Patterson is showcasing his documentation of an era rife with struggling artists immersed in a culturally diverse neighborhood at its peak of creativity. His photos of the scene are often considered a pioneering record of the evolution of drag in the mid-eighties.
(It’s really no surprise that the Pyramid Club has had a magnetic pull on the neighborhood throughout the years – just check out the history of 101 Avenue A.)
Anyway, it’s been about three months since Patterson sat down with ESOPUS founding editor Tod Lippy at Tompkins Square Library to talk about this bygone era. Now, “Portraits from the Pyramid” is the latest in his artistic endeavors.
“You just had this kind of spontaneous, unraveling creativity every weekend,” Patterson remarked in a statement. “The club was like a crystallization of the Lower East Side. Unlike SoHo, which was more of a careerist place for artists, the Lower East Side was an expressionist place, where it was more about just being an artist than being famous or rich.”
“Also, in that period, it was one of the most racially integrated neighborhoods in the world: It had Chinese, Indians, Bangladeshis, blacks, Hispanics, Jews, as well as lifestyle diversity—the Hell’s Angels, skinheads, drag queens, religious zealots. And at the Pyramid Club, security would be people from the hardcore scene, which is supposedly very antigay, but all of these stereotypes didn’t apply there. It was like a free zone.”
The show opens at menswear shop GROUPE (198 Bowery) Wednesday and runs through January 17, 2018. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 11am-7pm, Sunday 12pm-6pm.