January 9, 1980

'Artists Ejected in Occupation of a Storefront'
by Josh Barbanel

A group of artists staged what they called a "tactical occupation" of their padlocked art exhibition in a city-owned storefront on the Lower East Side yesterday, but they were immediately ejected by the police.

The artists first occupied the building without permission on Dec. 30 and were locked out three days later by officials of the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Yesterday, after rejecting several alternative sites offered by the city, the artists pried open a back door and returned.

"After a while all the work of individual artists merged into a new expression," said an artist who gave his name only as Bobby G. "The show wouldn't be the same anyplace else."

Views of City Planning
The exhibition, known as "The Real Estate Show", depicts 35 artists' largely acerbic views of the real estate industry and the city planning process through drawings, montages, cartoons, architectural mockups and, in one case, a sculpture made of cigarette wrappers.

It was installed quietly, and not without irony, in a two-story pale blue city building at 125 Delancey Street Dec. 30 and was scheduled to run two weeks. The artists say they have been made, in the words of one, "economic outcasts in their own neighborhoods," but city officials say they adamantly refuse to reopen the exhibition lest they endorse an illegal occupation.

"Sure, we broke in," said Alan Moore, who identified himself as a writer, a video artist and a member of the show's organizing committee. "But we wrote letters for six months first and didn't get any answers. Artists are getting pushed around by loft landlords, by banks, by the city."

Manuel Mirabel, an assistant commissioner of the Housing Department, met with the demonstrators at noon in front of the building on the corner of Norfolk Street yesterday, but refused to alter his position.

Last month, the city advertised for proposals for a privately owned shopping center to be built on the site.

Mr. Moore said the group would continue to mount drawings outside the storefront while they began a campaign to get the city agency to reverse itself.

"Our ideas are behind bars," he said. "And this is a statement made by the city, not by the artists."

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