If you’re living in NYC and you’ve never heard of Kenny Scharf, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.
Currently based in Brooklyn, Scharf was a major player in the East Village art scene of the ’80s – he shared an apartment with Keith Haring! His work has been featured all over the world, from the Whitney here in New York to installations in Germany and London. If you keep your eyes peeled, you can find his little grafitti doodles all over East Williamsburg. Here’s my pal Jesse hangin’ with one:
In 2009, he started throwing wild dance parties in the basement of his Brooklyn studio, dubbed “Cosmic Cavern,” which happened to be situated directly across the street from my apartment! BCC and I made it out to several of the parties before they were eventually shut down (if I had to guess, I’d go with noise violations). Sadface.
Picture this: You walk down a really steep set of stairs into a dark, humid cave. Pay $5 and walk through the door. Someone (if you’re lucky, Kenny himself!) paints a streak of neon day-glo paint on your face, maybe a stripe across your cheek, or a mustache and goatee. The only existing light source is black light. Everyone’s teeth look like they’re glowing. Kenny Scharf is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to day-glo. You’ve never seen anything like it. The entire basement is wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling COVERED in trippy art, a combination of neon paint and found items – old TV with single painted eyeball here, huge painted chair reminiscent of Chairy from Pee-wee Herman there. If you can squeeze yourself past the hoard of sweaty dancers, there’s a back room with a little bar selling PBR (of course).
For the most part these were taken with two of my nifty little point-and-shoot cameras, a Panasonic Lumix LX3 and an Olympus XZ-1. To say “tricky lighting situation” would be the understatement of the decade.
Yep, booty dancer in a body suit.