The Acker Awards, now in their sixth year, are a tribute given to members of the avant-garde arts community who have made outstanding contributions in their discipline in defiance of convention, or else served their fellow writers and artists in outstanding ways. The award’s novelist namesake, in her life and work, exemplified the risk-taking and uncompromising dedication that identifies the true avant-garde artist. — Clayton Patterson
LOCATION: THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY
155 First Ave (between 9th and 10th Streets) | New York, NY 10003 DATE: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 | Doors open at 6pm | Show starts at 7pm https://theaterforthenewcity.net/
THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY
was founded in 1970 by Crystal Field to realize clear purposes and goals:
To embody the vision of a center for new and innovative theater arts that would be truly accessible to the community and its experimental theater artists. To discover relevant new writing and to nurture new playwrights. To be a bridge between the playwright, experimental theater artist, and the ever-growing audiences in the community. To create spaces where a new vision can breathe and be nourished by a working process not subject to commercial constraints and pressures. To create events and ways in which to bring theater into the community and bring the community into the theater. To involve disadvantaged youngsters in theater arts in order to focus their energies towards creativity and achievement
Now in its 48th year, THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY is a unique Cultural Institution that has earned a nationwide reputation for its dedication to nurturing established and emerging playwrights who experiment with new forms and to presenting other experimental and developmental theaters with a very active program of Community Art Services and Festivals which continue to expand theater accessibility.
On Tues., March 26, the sixth annual NY Acker Awards will once again honor some of the best and brightest local contributors to the Downtown arts community.
Among this year’s diverse group of recipients are writer Cynthia Carr, who will receive the Candy Darling Award; director Larry Fessenden; squatter artist Andrew Castrucci; Trigger, formerly of the Continental; Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation; musicians Chris Iconicide and Jesse Malin; writer Michael Carter; and Lilah Mejia, of Why Not Care, who will be honored for Community Support.
Produced by documentarian Clayton Patterson, the Acker Awards recognize avant-garde artists, writers, musicians and community organizers that enliven the Downtown arts scene. While the event’s name pays homage to the late feminist writer Kathy Acker, it’s also an archaic Dutch word that means “a visible current in a river.
This year’s Lifetime Achievement Awards will go to Crystal Field, the co-founder and artistic director of Theater for the New City, and Jam Herman, an arts and culture writer who runs a blog called “Straight Up” on artsjournal.com. Forty artists, writers, filmmakers and community leaders in all will receive awards — all of whom were nominated by other community members.
Artist Anthony Zito has once again done portraits for this year’s posthumous Acker Award winners on flattened found paper coffee cups.
Each awardee will receive a pizza box filled with CDs, art and memorabilia contributed by the other Acker recipients. Each box will also include a crushed coffee cup decorated with the portrait of a late Downtown arts hero. Artist Anthony Zito has been scavenging and painting these found cups for the Acker Awards ceremonies since 2016.
In addition to the recipients’ speeches, the ceremony will feature performances by local musicians Gryphon Rue and Keith Patchel. This year’s sponsors are Jump into the Light, Groupe Collective at 198 Bowery, and Overthrow Boxing, of 9 Bleecker St.
The NYC Acker Awards will be held Tues., March 26, at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. (between Ninth and 10th Sts). Doors open 6:30 p.m., and event starts 7 p.m. Admission is free.
Linus Brant: I've been to a few of these ceremonies and I recommend attending them to anyone.I see the Akers as the NYC art underground equivalent of the Oscars except its the underground honoring it's own rather than market driven hype
and politics of fashion determining cultural accomplishment and artistic contribution.
The Ackers are the real deal and this year i'm up for one! To other worthy creatives in the nyc woodwork;your time will come. (Acker) merit is not really recognized in terms or order of worthiness or age I find. Otherwise how could I get this award before someone like say,Al Diaz AKA SAMO? So next year Al because I'm nominating you. Anyway,this promises to be a lively event.
Jeffrey C. Wright: Clayton Patterson is grabbing history by the horns in honoring people who have contributed to downtown culture and the arts. This induction ceremony is like the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame for the Underground heroes of the Lower East Side. For those of us who have operated largely outside of academia and its star-making machinery, this recognition is critical.
I love our turf and was thrilled to be have been included last year and join the over 200 movers and shakers representing our hood, the worldwide capital of Hip. Congratulations to this year’s winners! Thank you Clayton, thank you LES, and thank you Villager.
The honorees at the 2019 NY Acker Awards made some terrific statements about the history of the Lower East Side and their commitment both to the community and to the arts, but a rap performance by Power Malu about the devastation in Puerto Rico, where people are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria and from the Trumpistan government’s failure to provide proper help, was the most notable of the evening.
Phoebe Legere emceed the 2019 Acker Awards
The awards ceremony was packed.
Power Malu more than lived up to his moniker Thursday evening during the ceremony, where he was honored for his “music and community service.” I wish I had a video of his acceptance, but since I don’t, take a listen to a sample of his kind of rap music power.
Power Malu performing ‘I Bet You’ in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
He was one of the honorees at the 2019 NY Acker Awards.
Ackers honor avant-garde’s ‘real heroes’
Review By Bob Krasner
Published in: The Villager on April 1st, 2019
If you want to receive an Acker Award, keep doing what you’re doing — and who knows? — it could happen.
In the meantime, if you want to get a seat at the ceremony, get there early. The East Village community quickly filled the seats at The Theater for the New City, sending the staff scrambling to bring in extra seats and floor cushions, and still part of the audience was left standing.
From left, Clayton Patterson presented Crystal Field, of Theater for the New City, with the Lifetime Achievement Award, as emcee Phoebe Legere emcee’d the proceedings. (Photos by Bob Krasner)
The draw was longtime resident Clayton Patterson’s annual salute to the people who make the East Village / Lower East Side what it is. Honoring an eclectic mix of avant-garde artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers, activists and more, the evening moved quickly as emcee Phoebe Legere — appropriately dressed as a very fashionable ringmaster — presented each award.
Patterson hung back, handing out the boxes containing a mix of memorabilia and art contributed by the winners, and occasionally snapping pics.
Puppeteer and producer Vit Horejs, with emcee Phoebe Legere,
was another Acker honoree.
Crystal Field, director of TNC, received the first award for Lifetime Achievement. Field gave a brief speech, noting that she thought that “things are getting better,” while reminding us that “we are a grain of sand in history’s march forward.”
Cynthia Carr, a writer and historian, received the Candy Darling Award.
“I hope that I’ll end up deserving this someday,” she said.
Linus Coraggio, of the Rivington School, accepted his Acker “in the name of positive cultural transformation.”
Power Malu urged people to remember the plight of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.
“This award means more to me than any other, because my life is avant-garde theater,” noted Melba LaRose.
Trigger, former owner of the late, lamented Continental bar, reminisced about his friend Joey Ramone’s last show, which took place at his club. An Acker Award “honors the past, present and future,” he remarked.
Musician Jesse Malin related how he “found my tribe on St. Mark’s Place.”
Clayton Patterson had a few words for Trigger, one of this year’s honorees.
Power Malu began his turn at the mic with a tribute to Patterson and ended with an impassioned spoken-word piece about the plight of post-hurricane Puerto Rico. Community activist Lila Mejia also had Puerto Rico on her mind, as she offered T-shirts for sale to raise money for the island.
Tattoo artist Tommy Houlihan thanked his mother, who bought him his first tattoo machine.
Ivan Galietti , who received the Jack Smith Film Award, was adorned by Phoebe Legere
with a sash made by the late Jack Smith.
Patterson, who spoke only sporadically during the ceremony, summed up the reasons for the Ackers’ existence.
“If we don’t save our own history, who will?” he asked. Explaining his desire to recognize local talent, he explained, “A lot of the time, the real heroes are the ones you don’t know about until years later. The real geniuses are in the background.
“These are people who inspire the community,” he added. “I’m not trying for a crew, I’m going for a community.”
Lilah Mejia, of the group Why Not Care, was also honored with an Acker Award
for her work helping Puerto Rico’s recovery.
Cary: Clayton should be recognized for all of his hard work in creating this event, the energy that goes into it.
Linus Brant: Linus Coraggio here. I prepared a shortish acceptance speech which I shelved because Clayton made some opening comment that he didn't want honorees yapping too long (if at all) because of time constraint. So the crowd was not warmed up for the first 1/2 hour of the ceremony.
So Phoebe was hustling artists through who were acting meek and quiet like they were in catholic school (nothing against Phoebe,she's a long time friend-i wanted to get a kiss from her and say I was kissing Phoebe the amazing performance artist not the ex-playboy bunny). She gave me a nice heartfelt and rousing introduction but when i came up I had to ask to get the mike and awkwardly walk 15 feet over to Phoebe to get it. That made me feel un-into being the one to change up the vibe .So I just said a few words feeling like I was shortchanging myself and the audience.
BUT FOR THOSE WHO ARE INTERESTED,HERES WHAT I PLANNED TO SAY;
As a NYC native I want to thank myself for not getting killed in any number of ways like fighting back getting mugged or bicycling in NYC or playing whats now called parkour on rooftops,public statues and subway trains (hey,am I not getting the Acker for my years of ''original school'' skateboarding in the 1960's and 70's??).
I'd like not to thank the various past and present landlords for the numerous eviction attempts.
I'd like to publicly shame the NYC public art fund and the lower manhattan cultural council for never helping me (or any artists i know personally) do any public sculpture projects in this town. And to other creatives here tonight and around NYC who are deserving or more deserving than me of getting an Acker- I can tell you there is no prioritized rating system(otherwise how could I be getting one and someone like Al Diaz has still not got one?-I gotta nominate him for next year).So to those folks I say hang in there,your time will come!
Finally I give a shoutout to all artists of every rank,disipline and age to break rules, impose their autonomy on society and reject censorship to effect everlasting positive cultural transformation.
So viva Rivington School,street art and graffiti! And everybody is invited to my 1-man show in September at HOWL gallery. See you there motherfuckers!!!
(thats what I meant to say that night)
Jim Feast: this was a stunning event that astonishes every year