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East Village Eye

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Title: East Village Eye  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Cookie Mueller, Willoughby Sharp, Disco
Collection: Defunct Magazines of the United States, Magazines Disestablished in 1987, Magazines Established in 1979, Magazines Published in New York City
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

East Village Eye

The East Village Eye was a cultural magazine in circulation from May 1979 through January 1987. Based in New York City and published by editor-in-chief Leonard Abrams, it covered a range of topics, examples being local politics and gentrification.[1]

The Eye, as it was nicknamed, covered a breadth of topics ranging from the emergence of punk rock, hip-hop, and fashion as fringe pop culture to the burgeoning art and nightlife scenes that highlighted NYC's East Village neighborhood during the first half of the 1980s. The East Village Eye represented a confluence of the popular and the avant garde at a most influential time in the city of New York's history, all through the lens of a passionate downtown community.[2]

Born out of a necessity to fill a noticeable void in the coverage of independent art scenes in New York City, Abrams started the East Village Eye after moving to the East Village in the mid-1970s. The Eye opened its first office at 167 Ludlow St., later taking residence at several addresses in and around this relatively inexpensive pocket of downtown Manhattan, which had seen economic downturn in previous years. Abrams' decision to feature artists from these emerging scenes, eschewing more established institutions, made the East Village Eye a valuable cultural counterpoint. Over a span of 72 issues, the magazine was a platform to both share and examine the contributions of visual and performance artists, a swelling community of musicians, those on the cutting edge of fashion design and photography, and issues within the neighborhood, throughout New York City, and in society at large. The signature voice of the East Village Eye was laced with wit, satire, sarcasm, and a distinctly New York vernacular, at a time when traditional news outlets seemingly omitted this character. Through deals struck by Abrams' own New York New Papers distribution imprint, the East Village Eye reached a peak circulation of 10,000 copies per month, available with agents throughout New York City and outposts in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis. The magazine would become a marketplace for local economy as well, with neighborhood businesses purchasing ad space in an effort to enter the consciousness of the magazine's diverse readership.[3]

The list of East Village Eye contributors and features reads like a who's who of the era, including future icons of their respective crafts, as well as those who would fade into relative obscurity only to be sought after decades later in the name of nostalgia and novelty. The Eye boasts columns published by David Wojnarowicz, Glenn O'Brien, Cookie Mueller, Richard Hell, Lucy Lippard, and Rene Ricard, along with art direction and commissioned contributions by Christof Kohlhofer, Christy Rupp, Ellen Berkenblit, and Futura 2000. Art visionaries like Patti Astor, Robert Mapplethorpe, Vito Acconci, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat made their way onto the covers and into the pages of the magazine. Stalwarts and pioneers of the developing punk, post-punk, new wave and hip-hop scenes were also featured, notably acts such as Run DMC, Annie Lennox, the Beastie Boys, The Feelies, Debbie Harry (Blondie), among others. In fact, it has been reported that the East Village Eye was the first publication to print and define the term "hip hop" in an interview between writer/subculturalist Michael Holman and one of the founding fathers of the movement, DJ Afrika Bambaataa.[4]

Toward the mid-1980s there seemed to be a shift away from artists and galleries rooting themselves primarily in the East Village. The pull of nearby Soho's inevitable boom in the art world was enough to convince a once-brimming art scene to abandon its East Village borders in search of loftier aspirations. This exodus of the East Village art scene also brought on a decline in the necessity for a publication like the East Village Eye. With the arrival of 1987, the Eye would see its final issue printed, leaving behind a rich legacy and inspiring subsequent cultural digests. At present, Leonard Abrams maintains both digital and physical archives of the East Village Eye.


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External links

  • East Village Eye archives
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