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An East Village Boutique Where the Avant-Garde Gathered

  • October 21, 2021

“It wasn’t just a store that had a pile of stuff from all over the world,” Ms. Kitto said in interview to discuss “Sara Penn’s Knobkerry,” a just-published book resulting from her yearslong research and released to coincide with a related exhibition that opened at the Sculpture Center in Long Island City last week.

Knobkerry was, Ms. Kitto explained, a brick-and-mortar fixture of the Downtown arts scene, both a trading post and junction point for an ever-evolving cast of the artists, actors, dancers and musicians that created a milieu that sometimes seems in retrospect more legend than truth. Yet it was indeed a yeastier time, Ms, Kitto, 42, claimed.

Consider that Ornette Coleman shopped at Knobkerry. So did Jimi Hendrix, Louise Bourgeois and Lena Horne (and also, at various times in its existence, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mia Farrow, Janis Joplin and Yves Saint Laurent). That a store could function as a salon and gathering place for Black as well as white artists was remarkable even within the context of a Downtown sometimes more diverse in principle than practice, as Ms. Kitto’s book makes clear. Many then, as the artist David Hammons explained to Ms. Kitto, were “afraid to come in when they see all these Black people hanging out.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/21/style/knobkerry-east-village-boutique.html

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