Al Hansen

" YEAH " Collage on wood' 11 1/2 x 12
” YEAH “
Collage on wood’
11 1/2 x 12

I once opened a gallery on the Lower East Side.

Many years ago in the mid sixties, I had found a standard 25 x 100 foot loft on the Bowery for $100. Then I found the place on Pitt Street for $90. Rents were cheap then, but ten dollars was a big deal in those days. Not sure one could get much lower.

After a year on Pitt St,  I began using the loft to have shows. I called it ” The Pitt St Salon”. I liked using “Salon” as it conjured a fancy place, when in reality one had to climb over drunks and addicts to get in the place. People did brave it and at the initial opening we had over a hundred people and sold quite a lot of work.

Even Hudson Walker, Marsden Hartley‘s great patron, came down and bought three works.

Grace Glueck called me and did an article “Alternate Spaces” for the New York Times. She mentioned my gallery and how I felt about artists not being able to find a gallery that showed interest in your work, so…what do you do? “Open your own”.

A close friend Bob Wiegand came to the first opening and was so impressed that he and nine other formed “Ten Down Town”.  These were artists living below Houston Street Pre-Soho times. That was a great success and opened peoples eyes to loft living.

I had a group show at the Pitt Street Salon showing such people as Peter Dean, Bob Thompson, Salina Trieff and the artist I am showing here, Al Hanson.

I recall Al Hansen dropped this piece off but never came back to pick it up. When Hanson died, Jimmy Breslin wrote an article on him. They lived next door to one another and went through school together.  Breslin said “all he wanted to do was draw.” He was very bright and when the teacher would say “let’s do math”, he would say he knew math, and he did. So the teacher would send him off with his paper and crayons to draw alone.

This titled “Yeah!”, dated about 1964-5. It is prior to his signature Hershey wrapper work. It consists of of a letter dated 1960 and a receipt also dated 1960. There is graffiti writing -some legible, others just barely. In crayon across the middle is ” Oh Yeah”. Then there is a receipt for self service laundry. Then a piece of red mettle nailed with a bent rusty finish nail. The more I study it the more odd writings I find, like”Guess Hoose Guess Again ” with the G in guess missing.

I met Al Hansen a couple of times but cannot say I knew him. I can understand him. One time in the sixties I was invited to do a piece out of found objects. With my son  JZ,  I  appropriated a shopping cart and on the day of the opening we pushed the cart to the gallery finding stuff and putting it together in the cart. That was our piece. Hanson had his grandson Beck go around with him picking up cigarette buts and converting them into art.

Al Hansen was a member of FLUXUS.  He was really admired in Germany and showed with the likes of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. I’m lucky he never stopped by to pick up his work, YEAH!

 

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