ABC No Rio benefit May 3

just like those in the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave, maybe these walls belong to the ages (detail of 1998 mural done by Chris Benfield to which other artists later made additions - customary practice in the ABC No Rio space - but those elements are not shown here)

Barry and I are going to be at the ABC No Rio benefit on May 3rd at Allegra LaViola on the Lower East Side. We're both really looking forward to it, for the interesting company, the beer and the food, a great silent art auction, and guest DJs including Anna Kustera, Doug McClemont, and Kembra Pfahler.

But the occasion is also about the opportunity to help out, in at least a very modest way, one of the most interesting arts institutions in the city, an activist (and tenacious) DIY art, performance and community space on the Lower East Side (156 Rivington Street), a "collective of collectives," with an awesome past, a dynamic present, and an exciting future.

The current building is a monument, but it's pretty distressed structurally, and in a serious state of disrepair. Restoration would cost nearly as much as a creative new design offering more space and significantly-enhanced facilities, and it could be constructed on sustainable design principles. The decision was made: Start from scratch.

While I love a snappy new building as much as the next guy, it's going to be tough watching the old ABC No Rio go down. I think there will be an effort to salvage some of the bold murals created - in layers - over the last three decades: The image at the top of this post is just one of a number I captured last month on a tour of the old tenement on Rivington Street.

The institution is now well on its way toward realizing a handsome new Green home, designed by Paul Castrucci, to be built on the same site. Anyone can help it along by attending the party next Tuesday, or if unable to do so, by making a donation of any size.

Full disclosure: Barry and I are on the benefit committee. Details here. Tickets start at $50.