This week on THE CLICK
Clayton Patterson:This is New York
Artist, activist, and author Clayton Patterson is the unofficial historian of New York’s Lower East Side. For over three decades he has lived in the neighborhood, establishing himself as fixture in the landscape that has been central to the development of New York’s underground scenes.
He moved to New York in 1979, where he began working as an artist, creating paintings, prints, photography, and sculpture. He had his first exhibition that same year at the Frank Marino Gallery in Soho. By 1982, he purchased a building on Essex Street that became home, studio, print shop and gallery for himself and partner Elsa Rensaa.
His life changed dramatically on the night of August 6-7, 1988 when he gained notoriety for videotaping the Tompkins Square Park police riot. In what was the first of many legal cases for Patterson that concerned artists’ rights to their work and freedom of expression, he was arrested for refusing to give up his tape and sent to jail for eight days before a settlement was negotiated that allowed his release. The actions of officers that night against neighborhood residents, homeless individuals, affordable housing advocates, anarchists, squatters and others resulted in the filing of over 100 complaints of police brutality. The footage was important evidence in the investigations and legal proceedings that followed and several officers were disciplined or criminally indicted. The city also paid an estimated $2-3 million in settlements to the injured.
The Tompkins Square Park tape changed the direction of his work and his life. Afterwards, he became actively involved in neighborhood struggles and his video and photography often focused on such issues as the homeless crisis, drug trafficking, police corruption, and the displacement of the poor and artists by gentrification.
Patterson speaks with The Click about the nature of New York in this time of change, a period of revitalization under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg that changed the very fabric of New York’s landscape.
Read the full story here.