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City Lore Launches a new exhibition - What did it feel to be there?: 12 Portraits from The Addresses Project 

City Lore
By Kimberly Porter| City Lore Exhibition| Image: City Lore Gallery

City Lore, a pioneer in Urban Folklore programming and an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is pleased to launch a new exhibition, What did it feel to be there?: 12 Portraits from The Addresses Project created by artists Gwen Shockey and Riya Lerner. The City Lore Gallery is located at 56 East 1st street in Manhattan and the exhibition will open on March 29 and be on view through June 30, 2024. Gallery hours are: Friday 2-6pm, and Saturday – Sunday 12-6pm. There will be an opening reception at the City Lore Gallery on March 29, 2024 from 6 pm – 8 pm. 

Please rsvp for the reception: 

About the Exhibition  

What did it feel like to be there?: 12 Portraits from The Addresses Project presents a selection of twelve portraits by photographer Riya Lerner, selected  from a larger multi-disciplinary project entitled the Addresses Project created by Gwen Shockey with Riya Lerner featuring lesbian and queer individuals who have dedicated their lives to creating and holding space in New York City from the 1950s to today. The individuals included in the series represent a diverse network of community builders engaged with social and political organizing, mental health advocacy, nightlife, music, journalism, visual art, literature, poetry, performance, research, safer sex and kink practices. Each portrait includes a photograph taken in a significant location for the sitter, along with segments from their oral history interview and selected ephemera from their life and work.

The 12 individuals featured are: Grace Moon (founder of Velvetpark: Dyke Culture in Bloom), Lisa Cannistraci (owner of Henrietta Hudson), Lisa Menichino (owner of the Cubbyhole), Michela Griffo (artist and activist), Lisa Davis (author and historian), Red Robinson (sex educator and founder of Submit party), Cassandra Grant (founding member of Salsa Soul Sisters), Imani Rashid (founding member of Salsa Soul Sisters), Kay Turner (artist, musician, historian and folklorist), Lee Zevy (therapist and founding member of Identity House), Sharee Nash and Wanda Acosta (founders of Sundays at Café Tabac party). 

City Lore
Cassandra Grant| Image: Riya Lerner

This iteration of the exhibition will include vinyl wallpaper designed by Gwen Shockey from scanned lesbian and queer party and bar flyers from the mid-1900s through the early 2000s. Also featured will be an immersive resource area with books about queer and lesbian gathering and history that were integral to the creation of the Addresses Map and Project. Framing and printing of portrait materials made possible by The Center’s Queer Womxn’s Series funded by Amy Ellis and Trudy Sanders Reece. 

About the Addresses Project

The Addresses Project founded by artist Gwen Shockey, investigates lesbian and queer space and memory in New York City from the early 1900s to the present day through map-making, oral history interviews, ephemera and portraiture. The purpose of this project is to explore the history of the Gay Rights Movement (and its intersections with Civil Rights and Women’s Rights), shifts in identity building (and shedding) and the sociopolitical conditions of New York City from a lesbian and queer perspective. The mission of the Addresses Project is to offer lesbian and queer-identified individuals a multi-disciplinary platform through which to access a place-based heritage as well as intergenerational community building.

Artist and project founder, Gwen Shockey had this to say, “So many of the bars, community centers and sites of queer and lesbian activism that are listed in The Addresses Project were (and still are) located in the East Village. It is a dream to bring this exhibition to City Lore Gallery mere blocks away from the former locations of Meow Mix, Bluestockings, The Pink Pony and more. As Lisa Davis (featured in our exhibition) would say: the East village belonged to the girls honey.”

“The individuals, places, organizations, and events highlighted in this exhibition are community pioneers and community anchors, including our very own beloved board member--folklorist, scholar, and rockstar Dr. Kay Turner! People, place, memory, and creativity—the foundations of City Lore’s work—are the heart, soul, and fabric of this show, and resonate deeply with our core mission,” shared Molly Garfinkel, City Lore Co-Director. She went on to say, “We are so honored to host the stunning portraits, powerful oral histories, and distinctive ephemera that Gwen and Riya have included in What did it feel like to be there?: 12 Portraits from The Addresses Project, and to help amplify and celebrate the voices and contributions of trailblazers whose community organizing, advocacy, and vision have built networks, resources, and places that matter for current and future generations.”

About the Creators - Artists Gwen Shockey and Riya Lerner

Gwen Shockey is a Brooklyn-based multi-disciplinary artist, activist and educator. She teaches drawing and painting and directs the Anne Reid ‘72 Gallery at Princeton Day School in New Jersey. She was a recipient of the 2018–2019 Leslie-Lohman Museum Queer Art Fellowship and was a consultant for the Stonewall 50 exhibition Letting Loose and Fighting Back: LGBTQ Nightlife Before and After Stonewall at the New-York Historical Society.  She is the founder of the Addresses Project, conducting the oral histories and creating the project map. For more information:

Riya Lerner is a Brooklyn-based photographer and artist currently pursuing her Master of Social Work (2024) from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service. Before attending Fordham, she accumulated over a decade of experience working in museums as a public art curator, focusing on the intersection between art, identity, and social justice. Both her work as an artist and her impending role as a therapist are grounded in underlying principles of empathy, observation, interpretation, and connection. Lerner's fascination with identity and experiences in the construction of individuals’ narratives plays a significant role in all her works. She is a collaborating artist on the Addresses Project creating portraits of the featured participants.

About City Lore Gallery – The City Lore Gallery is a cultural hub that celebrates New York City's vibrant cultural atmosphere and provides a platform for the myriad voices that comprise the city. The gallery presents exhibitions and events on all the things that make New York "New York." From the golden age of graffiti, to endangered languages and activist comics, City Lore finds the art in everyday life. City Lore works in four cultural domains—urban folklore and history, preservation, arts education and grassroots poetry traditions—and is committed to the principles of cultural equity and democracy.

City Lore is grateful for generous support from: The New York State Council on the Arts with support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, La Vida Feliz Foundation, The Lily Auchincloss Foundation, and The Sherman Foundation. For more info:


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