Tom Warren, ABC No Rio, “Portrait Studio: No Rio Locals, 1981,” digital print, 2016

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16″ x 20″. Signed.

Tom Warren’s 1981 “portrait studio” at ABC No Rio, an interactive exhibition, provided professional-quality portraits to local residents at a negligible price. The resulting images functioned both as personal mementos for the subjects and as components in a cumulative portrait of the community.

Warren made very few prints from the negatives he kept. Recognizing their historical value, he recently returned to the negatives to create two photo-composites, “Portrait Studio: No Rio Locals” and “Portrait Studio: COLAB Artists.” Each of the digital prints has been signed by Warren.

Warren’s portrait studio provided a uniquely accurate depiction of life in the Lower East Side barrio. Because his subjects were also his clients, they present the attitudes and emotions that they want to be seen, in contrast to the dominant street photography that privileged the artist’s viewpoint. The composite of images taken at No Rio (including several of children dressed up for Halloween) is rich in pride and humor.


Photo composite


Signature on verso

ABC No Rio Collaborative Projects Inc (COLAB) Downtown Galleries East Village & Lower East Side East Village/Lower East Side Galleries Tom Warren