On the Sidewalks of New York: High Art, Bye Art

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  • 03/02/2023

A byproduct of one party, one view Democrat rule in New York City is strangling essential freedoms that art and artists need in order to flourish. Life in New York City has become less attractive. 

The Big Apple used to be where innovation had its first breath. Now, it’s where it has its last gasp.  Not only did New York City nourish homegrown artists, artists from around the world clamored to come here and produce in an environment committed to freedom of expression.

Now, transplants repeat the refrain, “it’s like the 80s.” But 2022 in New York City is not like the 1980s despite comparable crime stats (year to date, all Manhattan’s 22 precincts are up and major crime is up 50.47%).  We’re missing the other end of the spectrum excusing the deficits. Twenty something year olds that came to Manhattan harboring notions it was like Sex in the City have come to realize it’s more like Death Wish. Gone is the glam, models, energy, and growth.  Now, we have uglification, obesity, hatchets, and weaponized feces.

What happened to the intrepid creators usually at the vanguard of change? What happened to the counterculture? Where’s the buzz surrounding Fashion Week?  Broadway theater is truncated, spaced, masked, and suddenly non-alcoholic. Even our museums have succumbed.  The Museum of Natural History removed a statue of Theodore Roosevelt, without whom there would not be a Museum of Natural History. Others, like the Metropolitan, MoMa, and Guggenheim, closed for much of the pandemic only to reopen banning those not vaccinated.

Because of the Left’s intrusion on all aspects of freedom - speech, entertainment, social media, hiring, and recreation, people are terrified. 

So much has transpired in two years - ample material for creatives.  

Covid was unleashed upon the world. American blue states and cities, specifically New York City, responded with mandates trampling freedom.  Manhattan, was besieged by the blm terror of vandalizing, assaulting, torching, and looting traditionally safe and wealthy neighborhoods where art flourished.  Madison Avenue’s high-end stores are either boarded up or if open, a destination for shoplifters. Soho, formerly an artists’ mecca, has been torched to oblivion.  Greenwich Village, home of galleries and universities is now a web of permanent sidewalk scaffolding and restaurant shanties doubling as heroin injection sites. 

We’re in the throes of a crime spike the Left radical majority encourages via rhetoric and policy.   Woke policies infect every single institution. School has largely become a grooming station whereby the core curriculum is shunned because it’s racist. In its stead, a bevy of classes and lectures range from fostering racism and hormone blockers to toxic masculinity, and revising American history.  

Cancel culture is celebrated. Authors and books like Dr Seuss, To Kill a Mockingbird, Shakespeare (because they’re racist) and Dostoyevsky (because he’s Russian) are banned. Visual arts are stymied; at a time when elite New York City schools are pigment obsessed, how can budding artists dare to paint complexions? Comedians aren't funny because they’re fearful of being offensive. Period pieces and historical accounts must be revised.  Entertainment is monitored and removed; if you think deplatforming Joe Rogan is bad, imagine the people and ideas erased that we don’t know about.

Now should be the perfect time for the phoenix to rise from the ashes. But it’s just the opposite. Social justice police determine creativity.  If there aren’t enough gays, blacks, transgenders and social justice messaging, films can’t get funding or be eligible for awards.  

In the 1980s, New York City did have crime. We also had Giuliani. We had police, a robust economy, an education system still somewhat intact, and other hallmarks of dynamism. Residents clawed to stay put in Manhattan and we maintained the biggest tourist destination in the world.  What we had was a groundswell of an artistic revolution.  In 1981, MTV was founded! We had Madonna and Beastie Boys. Remember music? We had Marc Jacobs' groundbreaking fashion moment which led to a movement, grunge. It was born from the lifestyle which also gave way to a new sound in music.  There was a prolific visual art scene emerging with names like Basquiat, Richard Prince, Keith Haring, de Kooning, and Koons.  There was an exploding nightlife scene; The Tunnel, Area, Danceteria, and Limelight.  

Since 2020, it isn’t just that art has become stagnant.  It’s that art isn’t even art anymore - qualifications and standards have been removed entirely. Wokeism is the only ingredient and social justice critics are the arbiters. Without freedom, art dies.

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