I talked with artist Linda Simpson about her photographs and she shared them with us here.
All photos by Les Simpson (a.k.a. Linda Simpson)
"My slideshow is all in color. It's a collection of very random snapshots that I took throughout the decade--all for fun and shot with basic point-and-shoot cameras. The photos are of friends of mine, after-dark events, celebrities that I shot at various encounters (including Liz Taylor!), ACT UP protests, Wigstock in Tompkins Square Park, etc.
My photo credit is 'Les Simpson,' since almost all the pictures were taken before Linda was born (in the late 1980s)."
"I was in NYC for practically the entire 1980s, and for me the decade was about finding myself. As the photos reflect, I didn't have a game plan. I was mostly just bouncing around, absorbing and observing the city. Near the end of the decade I began to find my niche, which was the East Village gay and drag scene.
My photos bring back a lot of great memories, and it's been an opportunity to reach out to some people I've lost contact with over the years. But I can't deny that there is some melancholy. It makes me realize even more that my youthful years are long gone. A lot of the people in the photos are dead. The slideshow is a tribute to them."
"I think what's important to remember about that time in the city's history is that it was extremely creative time. There were a lot of urban ills, but also it was time of much originality and imagination—in art, music, the nightlife, etc. New York had a very unique flavor back then.
When I moved into the East Village in 1987, the neighborhood was shabby and had an unsafe reputation. You rarely walked a straight route to get from Point A to Point B. Instead you zig-zagged to avoid blocks that were rough and only for drug dealers and addicts. Now the East Village is so much more tidy, and, of course, the rents are astronomical compared to when I moved in. My apartment on East 13th Street was originally under $400—and I never even had to put down a deposit! I moved out of the neighborhood in 2005. It was a great place to 'grow up' and I enjoy visiting. It's not the bohemian stronghold that I once knew, but it's still pretty lively."
"If I was young and moving to the city now, I'm sure my destination would be Brooklyn. There's an interesting drag scene in Bushwick that sounds right up my alley—avant-garde and DIY and pushing the boundaries of gender expression!"
- See the show at Clamp Art, now until July 3
- Linda will be making a personal appearance at the Gallery on June 8, from noon to 2:30.