Economic trends ebb & flow ranging from boom timers to recessions and depressions. In this era of extreme urban density development marked by gentrification, it would be curious to consider how these urban areas will look like when and during the next economic tsunami hits. During the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, municipalities were bankrupt, urban areas were hollowed out as the upper and middle class fled leaving the poor (mainly of color), and crime was rampant, particularly violent crime.
Nonetheless the art & culture scene blossomed, driven by those pioneers who either couldn’t afford to leave or decided to stay, thrived amongst the rubble, sometimes literally, of the vacated city. And that’s why we marvel at the artistic, cinematic and musical genius creations of the 1970s and 1980s and mourn their demise during the 21st century. Even the structures that housed these groups have been bulldozed and with wrecking balls to make way for luxury glass towers, the permanent physical removal of any and all remnants of that period with no visible traces or even markers left. The artists of that period are now middle to late middle age, still struggling starving artists living on the fringes of the city instead of the once vacated core - fringe artists living on the fringe creating their fringe art.
In a karmic sense “what goes around comes around.” Because whenever the next economic collapse occurs – perhaps sooner than you think – it will probably be long lasting and force the evacuation of the newest residents of the newest buildings because of rising unemployment in upper-strata jobs. The glass towers will become the next generation of artists’ newest abode possibly taking advantage of squatters’ rights as the corporate real-estate owners are financially dissolved and unable to challenge the new informal residents. Or perhaps to stay financially solvent, these corporations may even rent spaces to them at affordable rates.
Cool, cutting edge art created from former garnish looking glass luxury towers doesn’t seem as gritty as those created from the newly repurposed former industrial buildings of Soho or Tribeca. But like a phoenix, the cultural spirit from bygone years will resurrect itself with the younger generation using 21st century social media tools for their artistic work. The only questions is whether this generation’s art will have that unfiltered, raw, independent grit as their 1970s forbearers to recreate that 1970s environment.
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