Welcome to 2006! What's coming up in events around the city...sex, drugs, and rock & roll. And also some art and design (all downtown, of course). Some things never change, even with the passing of a year.

First up, Parsons presents the first exhibition to explore one of the most avant-garde periods in 20th-century American Design, titled Anarchy to Affluence: Design in New York, 1974 -1984. The exhibit aims to examine important interior, furniture, fashion, and graphics design produced in New York City from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. This decade was one in which downtown artists, musicians, playwrights and designers created some of the most avant-garde work produced in America during the last century. More than 75 works that span a range of design disciplines, including drawings, photographs, posters, and ephemera, as well as clothing, furniture and objects from the period.

Anarchy to Affluence begins with the birth of Punk (naturally), both as a rebellious artistic style and form of music. Setting a colorful backdrop for city sidewalks, the movement's vibrant anti-establishment posters were often designed by the bands themselves - the technique was as simple as cutting, pasting and Xeroxing. Moving on the exhibit explores designers of the time, such as Betsey Johnson (then considered avant garde, now considered mainstream). The show will track their place in the design world and show off their earlier colorful, club kid-esque collections. From form to function, home designs of the time (beginning with the rise in popularity in loft living) will also be examined. Increasing numbers of artists followed by affluent New Yorkers were moving in to lofts at the time, which led to a trend in "high-tech" design, which exalted the use of industrial materials and furnishings such as gym lockers, moving pads and factory lamps in the domestic environment. Ergo, poor starving loft-living artists created IKEA!

"Anarchy to Affluence: Design in New York, 1974 -1984" // January 10 to April 2 // Parsons' Arnold and Shelia Aronson Galleries [66 Fifth Ave]

2006_01_arts_johnson.jpgIn collaboration with this is "The Downtown Show: The New York Art Scene, 1974-1984," curated by Paper magazine's senior editor Carlo McCormick. 7 years in the making, the show will exhibit over 300 pieces, becoming the most comprehensive record of that period. The show also serves to illustrate how the various artists, now catergorized in to a specific medium, at one point were all over the creative map. An example being Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was not just an artist! He was also in band called Grey. Another example is Betsey Johnson's endless inspiration from the music world, she was even married John Cale of the Velvet Underground for a time. More info on the show here. [Image at right from The Downtown Show, "Artifacts at the End of a Decade" by Betsey Johnson (1981)]

We'll be heading to the Downtown Show tonight, and we suggest you don't miss either of these exhibits. If you're left craving more then there's always The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene, 1974-1984, which accompanies McCormick's show.

"The Downtown Show" // January 10 to April 1, 2006 // Grey Art Gallery, New York University [100 Washington Square East] // Opening reception will be held TONIGHT, January 9, from 6-8 pm