Punk Art Exhibition

Washington Project for the Arts, Washington, D.C., May 15-June 10, 1978

Poster for the Punk Art Show, Washington Project for the Arts

CBGB was primarily a music scene but a new direction for the visual arts was also percolating beneath the surface. As veterans of the art scene in Soho, Bettie and I were aware that many of the musicians and audience members at CBGB were also visual artists involved in film, photography and multimedia. Less familiar to us was the crew of young artists that coalesced around Punk Magazine, a clever fanzine full of cartoons, photomontage and creative picture stories.

When Alice Denney, the director of an alternative art space in Washington DC, came to New York and asked us to help her find exciting new art to exhibit, we suggested "Punk Art." The always feisty Alice couldn't resist one more opportunity to shock "boring old Washington" and when John Holmstrom and Legs McNeil of Punk Magazine agreed to join the venture the world’s first Punk Art exhibition was born. John and Legs filled one room with their crew of artists, while Bettie and I added a mix of Soho artists that seemed right for the billing.

It was an art movement, or at least an art hype, whose time had come. As word of the exhibition spread, the show took on its own momentum with a mobbed opening, an avalanche of press coverage, and in the show's wake a string of similar exhibitions.