Chances are you’re familiar with some of the characters, illustrated in black and white, in Lower East Side, New York native Clayton Patterson’s new book Legends of the Lower East Side #1, a coloring book available for purchase now. Characters like: Downtown skateboard legend Harold Hunter, superstar Luther Vandross, character actor Luis Guzman, artist Tom Otterness and A-Ron The Don, to list 5 of the 24 individuals who have put the LES on the map in some shape or form.
Truth be told, we were clueless about Luther being from the LES but Patterson, a Wikipedia in the flesh, activist, filmmaker and photographer, to list four of his many well worn hats, soon schooled us about the crooner and about Chinese artist Ai WeiWei, who also lived in the neighborhood in the 1980s. Weiwei, you may have heard, is now in the cross hairs of the repressive Chinese government because of his stance on democracy.
“Long story short, if you’re looking for archival images of the LES during the ‘80s, look to Patterson and Ai Weiwei because they have an enviable collection.”
Patterson, who has been living in the LES since 1979, is no stranger to Mass Appeal readers who were first introduced to the Outlaw Art Museum founder in MA Issue 12, published Fall 2001. In that issue Patterson copped the cover and laced our pages with a handful of portraits from his “Walk of Fame” series, a collection of portraits of LES locals who have posed in front of his heavily graffitied front door on Essex Street since 1984. Patterson’s door is still in the mix but the 2.5 ft x 3 ft picture display is no longer there.