On Art and Artists: DOWNTOWN 81

Downtown 81

This fanciful urban fairytale is an essential time capsule of post-punk club land in Lower East Side Manhattan in the early 1980s. The not yet famous artist Jean-Michel Basquiat stars, along with such hipsters as John Lurie, Lydia Lunch, Vincent Gallo, Deborah Harry, and rap legend Melle Mel, as he makes his way in a scene exploding with new wave music, new painting, hip-hop, and graffiti. Among the leading bands of the era captured onscreen are Kid Creole and the Coconuts, James White and the Blacks, DNA, Tuxedo Moon, The Plastics, Walter Steding and the Dragon People, Suicide, and Basquiat’s own band, Gray. (73 min.)

On view at the Portland Art Museum, Nov 4–Feb 21, is “Paige Powell: The Ride,” a three-channel digital projection and installation featuring her personal archive of never-seen recordings and images of Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the New York art world in the 1980s.


DOWNTOWN 81 screens Saturday, October 31 at 4:30pm and Wednesday, November 4 at 7pm in our Whitsell Auditorium (located in the Portland Art Museum). The film is showing as part of our On Art and Artists series.

Tickets are available online or at the door.

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