Over the years two dozen items about or related to Clayton Patterson have appeared on this blog. It’s an indication of the staff’s interest in his cultural significance. Patterson’s importance in general, but especially on the Lower East Side of New York City, comes from his commitment to social and political values for the good of his community. He has put his life on the line to document and preserve it in a way that few are brave enough to do. Now his role as both activist and outsider artist in his own right is the subject of a new book, titled simply Clayton.—yes, with a period—full stop. For those who know him, or of him, his name alone is sufficient to tell the story. For those who don’t, Permuted Press has gathered a group of remarkable graphic artists to tell it.
“Mr. Patterson’s world has been the downtown demimonde of squatters, anarchists, graffiti taggers, tattoo artists, junkie poets, leathered rock ’n’ rollers, and Santeria priests.”
—The New York Times
From the publisher:
For the first time ever, legendary photographer and videographer Clayton Patterson—who Anthony Bourdain described as the “archivist of all things Lower East Side”—is the subject of a biographical graphic novel anthology. Like no other, Clayton has documented the often-overlooked people and cultural contributions of New York’s Lower East Side—sometimes finding himself in perilous situations as a result.
For decades, Clayton has, as his friend Ai Weiwei puts it, “relentlessly devoted himself to a kind of culture that examines authority.” Best known for his documentation of the Tompkins Square Riots in 1988, Clayton lived at the intersection of numerous underground cultures, from drag queens to punks, gangbangers to tattoo artists, breathing in the same creative energy that gave life to Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Talking Heads, Blondie, and other New York icons.
In a time when the future of the city is threatened by hyper-gentrification, Clayton, whose work has documented the creative DIY underbelly of the Lower East Side, has become an icon of an increasingly vanishing New York. Now, in the tradition of Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, eighteen artists pay tribute to him in this graphic novel anthology—the first biography of this iconic artist intertwined with a rich history of the Lower East Side over the last thirty years.