Description & Building Alterations
George Frederick Pelham designed this Old-Law tenement for owner Jacob Kassewitz in 1901, just a few months before the tenement law changed. It housed 24 families and two stores when it first opened.
Bill Stelling and underground No Wave film actress Patti Astor, known as “The Queen of the Downtown Screen,” started FUN Gallery at this location in 1981. The gallery, which lasted until 1985, gave many graffiti artists – and, significantly, openly gay artists – the opportunity to host their first one-man shows, including Jean Michel Basquiat, Lee Quinones, SHARP, Keith Haring, Fab 5 Freddy, and Revolt. It also featured Dondi White, Jane Dickson, Futura 2000, and Lady Pink. These artists were free to rename and remake the gallery as they desired. “Fun Gallery” was originally the name of Keith Scharf’s show, which stuck thereafter. Unlike the established uptown galleries, which prioritized art buyers, the Fun Gallery welcomed artists, neighborhood residents, kids, and other passers-by. It also threw notorious parties. FUN Gallery did the delicate work of bringing hip-hop and graffiti artists into the gallery scene while maintaining their street cred, and was essential in connecting people to the art world, and art to the people.
Block : 467 / Lot : 47 / Building Date : 1901 / Original Owner : Jacob Kassewitz / Original Use : Residential/Commercial / Original Architect : George Frederick Pelham