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Words by Gerry Visco
in: Beyond Race Magazine, issue 3rd quarter 2008, New York

Clayton Patterson portraitBeing a renegade has its costs. Photographer, writer, outlaw historian and activist Clayton Patterson could tell you all about it. Apart from having several teeth knocked out by the police during a demonstration, being arrested 13 times, and his stint in a jail cell for refusing to give up the infamous 3 hour and 33 minute videotape he took filming the notorious Tompkins Square Park Police riots in 1988. he has also been overcommitted to activism and involvement in his community on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Over the years, he’s documented his neighborhood during its height of raw creativity, with its population of artists and eccentrics, through thousands of photographs, videos, and artifacts. After a lifetime of capturing the denizens of downtown. Patterson himself has been captured by three twenty-something filmmakers in a new 92-minute documentary entitled Captured, which is being previewed worldwide prior to its official release later this year.

Directors/producers Ben Solomon and Dan Levin, along with editor/producer Jenner Furst, have spent countless hours during the last three years making this film on a shoestring budget. The trio is currently promoting the film, with the help of executive producer Marc Levin. Levin's father and award¬winning producer and director of the feature film Slam. The budding auteurs began work on Captured immediately upon graduating. Solomon recalls the beginning stages. "During our senior year at college, we approached Clayton, after spending a lot of time with him—we’d always talked to him about his plans for the archives." Of course, it was a challenge getting Clayton to agree to work with them at first. "He's protective of his material." Solomon explains. "There wasn't an outright no from Clayton, but he was a bit apprehensive. It took some coaxing and intellectual massaging to work everything out." Captured dramatizes an exciting and freewheeling time when they themselves were mere infants, and demonstrates how much New York City has changed in only a few decades. They shot the film with a Panasonic DVX 100 A. incorporating much of the original footage lensed by Patterson himself on the streets of the Lower East Side.

The young filmmakers were drawn to Patterson for many reasons. He is quite the personality in his biker get-up, wiry beard, and sporting the skull caps he and partner Elsa Rensaa design. His artist’s pulse has always been on the youth culture, photographing subjects the filmmakers were interested in. such as graffiti, art. and a wide range of characters from the streets of their childhood—drug dealers, rabbis, hookers, poets, and drag queens. Patterson gives Solomon. Levin, and Furst plenty of credit for sticking to the project. “They had tremendous patience, spending hours and hours tweaking, shaving off miniscule amounts to make it fit together. They had determination, vitality, and strength. They didn’t do things the easy way. It was pretty heroic."

Patterson’s videos and photographs have preserved the imagery of a neighborhood whose individuality is rapidly evaporating thanks to escalating rents and over-development. Meanwhile, he continues to document the remaining residents and places through photography, videography, and by editing a series of books that provide a rich history of the Lower East Side. According to Levin. "Clayton’s photos and videos allowed us to see the real New York. When we showed the film to 16-year-old kids, with the way S'” street used to look, they’d say. ’Holy shit, isn’t that a Gap now. isn’t that a Starbucks?" Patterson has dedicated his life to his depiction of the heady creativity and lawlessness of the Lower East Side during the last 30 years. The irony is that just as his beloved community is being transformed into a bland enclave peopled by yuppies and wannabe hipsters, his work is finally being recognized.

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About the Author: Gerry Visco, the Classics academic administrator for 18 years, is easily recognizable by her bright eyeshadow, platinum tousled hair, and eccentric style. She has earned three degrees from Columbia including a BA in fiction, MFA, and a Masters in Journalism. Gerry is a founder of the Gerry Party, a self-proclaimed nightlife diva, and a freelance writer. She has also cultivated a strong social media presence of over 3000 Instagram followers, and she has appeared on Humans of New York. more

Beyond Race Magazine (BRM) is a quarterly magazine based in New York City primarily centered on independent and emerging artists, covering music, film, and other arts, such as literature, graffiti, tattooing, and visual arts. The publication also reports heavily on progressive issues and culture, in general.
Founded in 2006 by David Terra, the magazine has steadily grown both in circulation and visibility.
Along with in-depth features on musicians and artists, each issue also covers social and political topics and has several pages devoted to album reviews. Past issues have covered Dub Trio, the Beastie Boys, Cevin Soling, Garland Jeffreys, Donnell Rawlings, Hi-Tek, Subatomic Sound System, and Nada Surf.
The magazine has been an active supporter of New York City's diverse arts and music scene. Every year Beyond Race magazine hosts a party for their Music Issue that highlights artists from across the broad spectrum of genres flourishing in the five boroughs from electronic to reggae to hip hop to rock and everything in between. Past bills have included a breadth of artists from Garland Jeffreys to Subatomic Sound System.
The magazine also has a large presence on the internet by maintaining active YouTube and MySpace accounts and regularly updating its website to include exclusive online content, such as interviews, concert and film reviews, and opinion columns.

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