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Bizarre Black Box Gallery
12 Jefferson St.
Brooklyn, NY 11206
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Friday May 30, 7pm-4am
Saturday May 31, 12pm- midnight (event at 8pm)
Sunday June 1, 12pm-midnight (event at 8pm)

NYC in the late 1970s and early 80s could best be described using Charles Dickens' phrase “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Meryl Meisler’s photographs documented it with compassion and humor. As the city neared bankruptcy, crime rates rose, epidemics of arson and crack made the Big Apple seem like it was rotting to the core. In the midst of it all, a scintillating groundbreaking disco nightlife culture arose. Crossing the most exclusive clubs’ velvet gates, Meryl danced and photographed with her medium format camera. July 13, 1977 while she was en route to Studio 54, a blackout shuttered NYC. A few days later, the disco beat was back while headlines and radios blasted news about a neighborhood had she never heard of before, Bushwick, where looting and rioting erupted in the darkness and went on and on.

Fast forward to 1981; Meryl arrives at her new teaching position in a Bushwick Public School. On the surface the neighborhood epitomized urban decay. The beauty of natural light and those who loved and thrived in the destruction were captured with a point and shoot camera as Meryl walked to and from the subway and school.

A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick juxtaposes Meryl’s disco and Bushwick photographs with the writing of authors who grew up amongst the rubble. The accounts of Bushwick historians and educators, Disco divas and Dickens’ narrative contribute to this true-life story and remind us that many of the same issues reverberate today. Meryl’s images of Bushwick are the largest known documentation of the neighborhood during a desperate decade. Her disco photographs have never been shown before. A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick is Meryl’s first monograph.


Friday, May 30, 7pm - 4am
DISCO NIGHT with Merrie Cherry, Elizabeth James, Ariana Huffenstuff, Bushwick Burlesque GoGo dancers, Darlinda just Darlinda, Wild Torus, DJs, Dancing, Open Bar and more

Saturday, May 31
8:00 Judi Jupiter– Disco Scrapbook Standup
Emanuel Xavier– Bushwick’s Legendary Poet, LGBT Icon and Activist
Shea & Sole Junky– Break Dancing
Corey Boykins- Spoken Word
The Spectacular Madame Vivien V

10:00 AiB Electronic Music Showcase
Sunday, June 1

8:00 The Spectacular Madame Vivien V and Surprise Guests
10:00 AiB Short Films Festival

Sunday, June 8
3:30 Roy Nathanson and Students from I.C.E. – Subway Songs: Jazz & Poetry

Saturday, June 14
11:00am Gallery Talk & Bushwick Photo Walk with PWP (Professional Women Photographers). Bridging Bushwick Sculpture Garden, The Living Gallery, & Bushwick Daily

Daily 11am – 4am

Meryl Meisler has received fellowships/grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Puffin Foundation, Artists Space, Time Warner, CETA, China Institute and the Japan Society. She’s exhibited at The Whitney Museum, Brooklyn Museum, New Museum, Dia Center NYC, New York Hall of Science, MASS MoCA, and in public spaces such as Grand Central Terminal, South Street Seaport and throughout the NYC subway system. Her work is in the permanent collections of the American Jewish Congress, AT&T, Brooklyn Historical Society, Columbia University, Islip Art Museum, Library of Congress, Metropolitan Transit Authority, Pfizer, Reuters, and within artist books in the collections of Carnegie Mellon, Chrysler Museum and the Centre Georges Pompidou, MOMA, Metronome and The Whitney Museum.

Photographs and text by Meryl Meisler
Introduction by Catherine Kirkpatrick
Designed by Patricia Jean O'Brien
Writing by Charles Dickens, John A. Dereszewski, Judith DeLong, Vanessa Mártir, Adam J. Schwartz and Emanuel Xavier

Bizarre Publishing
8.5 x 11 inches
180 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9910141-1-8
$40.00 USA/CAN

About The Book Contributors

John A. Dereszewski, Bushwick historian, was District Manager of Bushwick's Community Board 4 during the tempestuous 1970's.

Judith DeLong (AKA Judi Jupiter) was a Disco Queen who does stand-up comedy. Judith and Meryl photographed NYC’s wild nightlife and the Fire Island/Hamptons scenes.

Catherine Kirkpatrick is an award-winning photographer and blogger whose article "Sgt Pepper Uncovered" for Professional Woman Photographers was named by PhotoShelter to its list of "Best Blog Posts of 2011." She is delighted to be sharing a studio on Morgan Avenue.

Vanessa Mártir, now a writer, came across an image of herself at seven years old in one of Meryl's Bushwick exhibits. She is completing her first memoir, A Dim Capacity for Wings, about her childhood in 1980s Bushwick. Excerpts of her memoir have been published as essays in numerous literary journals & anthologies, including Dismantle: an Anthology of the VONA/Voices Workshops, Repuesta Magazine & Portland Review.

Patricia Jean O’Brien is a multimedia designer and information architect whose work has appeared on major news, financial and entertainment websites, network and cable affiliate stations including ABC, CBS, NBC, Disney and Reuters. She has exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum and The NY Hall of Science and has received an Artists Space Grant. Patricia was an art teacher in Bushwick during the 80s.

Adam J. Schwartz is an Urban Enthusiast and Educator. Adam and Meryl co-curated "Up From Flames: Mapping Bushwick's Recovery 1997 - 2007" at the Brooklyn Historical Society, inspiring Meryl to begin digging through her boxes of Bushwick slides.

Emanuel Xavier is Bushwick's own legendary poet, LGBT icon and activist. He is author of four full-length poetry collections: Pier Queen, Americano, If Jesus Were Gay & other poems and Nefarious.

  • » merylmeisler.com
    » bizarrebushwick.com
    » Contact
  • Book Arts, Comedy, Dance, Installation, Music, Disco Night Opening Party with live performances and DJs, Friday May 30, Performance Art, Performing Arts, Photography, Walking Tours, Writing/Literary Arts
  • Is Participatory/Interactive
    Will Have Drinks For Sale
    Will Have Food For Sale
    Will Include Work For Sale
  • 14 participants