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Dear Friends,

Wait a minute...

What did you say?


For real?




I don't believe it...


After twenty years, my entire adult life, The Pop Shop is closing. No, I shouldn't be surprised. Sure, I should have seen it coming. Just look at Soho now – a giant vapid sidewalk mall. Back in 1985 no one was even sure where Lafayette Street was. But that was Keith – always the pioneer, always pushing boundaries. The Soho galleries vanished along with the every other non-franchise store in the neighborhood but The Shop remained.

I remember those early days, entering in wide-eyed amazement. I wanted ALL of it: the shirts, the radio, the inflatable baby, the endless buttons, the skateboards, the magnets, the prints for $200 each ("One set per customer please"). And not just stuff by Keith but also Andy, Futura, Kenny, Stephen Sprouse... Pick up a clip board and write down the codes of the things you want, chat with Izzy and Bipo while they get the order together then "Step down to the next window." Over the years I'd walk away from that window with every conceivable piece of Keith paraphernalia but I'd also leave with something much more important and longer lasting.

The idea that "an artist" was "a person" had never entered my mind in any but the most abstract fashion. Growing up in blue-collar middle class Brooklyn of the bankrupt 1970s, it was not an idea that had much opportunity to flourish in my world. It was Keith who changed that for me. Keith, a real person who I could see, speak with, dance with, smoke with, laugh with, and relate to, who gave that idea a life within me. And it was in The Pop Shop that the idea first began to take shape.

It wasn't until many years later that I would come to understand just how remarkable the concept of The Shop was. Artists who wanted to be "taken seriously" just did not do "things like open a souvenir shop" - but Keith defied the old guard nay-sayers. Defied them to dismiss him on any grounds.

Over the years The Pop Shop has been many things in my life: an inspiration, a hang out, an impromptu disco, a family gathering, a shelter, a memorial. Now I must prepare for it to become... a memory. But it will be remembered. Not just by me but by whole generation of once young people who were fortunate enough to help animate Keith's work and world.

We are his legacy and we will continue to be "open for business".
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Sad, just another piece of Old New York gone. It will eventually become an NYU dorm I'm sure.

Well Karl,
You are also a very special talented person.
(I know one when I see one)
You have to take all that with you and put it into whatever it is you're going to do.

I'm just remembering the backdrop you made for us early on at Jackie 60. It was gorgeous. And didn't you also help us "do" Keith for a Jackie theme?
Yes Daddy, just what we need - another NYU Dorm. I did "do" Keith once but not at Jackie. It was at the 2nd Pat Field Ball at Roxy (or was it 1018 then?). The category was "Impersonating a Dead Legend". Keith had died just a few months earlier and I was able to borrow his glasses, wallet, and baseball jacket and I had a bag full of shirts and buttons from The Pop Shop. You were the DJ that night - you played "Pop Music" when I hit the runway. I got Grand Prize, of course.
Last edited by Karl X.
Though I was never a real fan, the shop was kind of the gateway to Lafayette for years. When I first noticed its manifestation was when I used to visit a gallery a little further down the street run by Josh Baer as a kind of 'not EV but definitely not Soho' statement. Baer, whose mother was a famous minimalist painter and expat who relocated to Amsterdam years before, was plugged in to a high tier of art collectors. He showed Jack Goldstein, Nancy Dwyer, et. al. Baer's girlfriend, Rosetta Brooks, was a highly popular reviewer back then for all the trade mags, and once famously installed a regulation hospital bed in the gallery when Baer had a back injury. For months he resided in the gallery office in the hospital bed conducting business. These bohemian twists ended after a very short heyday as I remember, finally, one night leaving an opening totally appalled that the superrich had discovered the gallery. Everyone in the place had on at least $2,000.00 worth of couture. When I got back down to the street I thought, "Well at least there is the Pop Shop."

The shop really stood for the person, that was unmistakeable and quite novel. It was an idea way ahead of today's 'branding' fad. It took the whole 80's art market inferno that drove so much really thinly accomplished art to the land of fat price tags one step further. It was just blatantly saying the whole thing was about retail sales. In that way it was honest and unapologetic about it. And it was a really festive, fun place.
Last edited by seven

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