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The Bowery Has Left the Building

The Bowery Has Left the Building

Annie Rachele Lanzillotto (April 2, 2014)
last group photo taken at 258 Bowery, 2nd Floor, Dixon Place, New York City. Photo: Rosette Capotorto 2014
April 1st, 2014: The Bowery Has Left the Building. Home to Vaudeville and where "the hook" was invented, The Bowery has closed its last performance-art house, Dixon Place, and Founder Ellie Covan has left the building for good. L to R Back Row: ARTISTS: Sophia Ortega, Annie Lanzillotto, Susanna Cook, Gary Ray, Nicky Paraiso. L to R Front Row: Penny Arcade, Ellie Covan, Salley May

April 1st, 2014: The Bowery Has Left the Building. Home to Vaudeville and where "the hook" was invented, The Bowery has closed its last performance-art house, Dixon Place, and Founder Ellie Covan has left the building for good.


In the corner stood the last prop, a pair of red wooden stilts; an apt metaphor for the financial reality of being a performance-artist on the Bowery of 2014 where loft apartments go for three million dollars and hotels drill down into the Schist for artesian well water.  Artists live on red wooden stilts.  This is as stable as we come.

 At 258 Bowery, Dixon Place kept the soul of the Bowery and the history of Vaudeville.  Across the street from the ghosts of The Palace of Illusions (257 Bowery in the 1880's), and McGurk's Suicide Hall (295 Bowery, 1985-1902), Dixon Place reignited the ambling spirit of Lady Mephistopheles who was arrested after a performace at The Palace of Illusions, and  for decades kept the spirit of the Bowery alive.  The photo above is the last group photo taken, before Ellie Covan has to leave 258 Bowery for good.  In the photo are artists whose work has been shaped by the downtown performance-art scene at Dixon Place, as well as shaped the downtown avant-garde culture.  Susanna Cook, Salley May, Annie Lanzillotto, Penny Arcade, Nicky Paraiso, Gary Ray, Ellie Covan.   

Tonight, Ellie Covan, Founder of Dixon Place in 1986, held a candlelight vigil of sorts -- a goodbye to the space that gave so many performance-artists their start, that ran a different show every night of the week for decades, that aired thousands of stories through the ravages of AIDS, and gave a home to queer theater with the HOT FESTIVAL.   Ellie Covan ran a true living room theater right there in her living room filled with plush couches and kitchen chairs, clip-on lights, her cats milling about and a wall size poster of Judy Garland atop the toilet, overlooking all who entered the holy stall and out the Bowery windows.  Tonight we circled up and Salley May lit her flash paper on fire as we cheered for all the work all the art that took place in this glorious space.

We will always remember the soul of the Bowery, the Bouwerie, --from the First Peoples who walked this diagonal through Manahatta, to Peter Stuyvesant's colonial farm, to the poor of the flophouses to the glory of vaudeville to the avant-garde performance-artists whose quest for survival and justice fueled the '80's and 90's, and all the artists we lost to AIDS.  

We pay homage tonight to all Dixon Place Veterans.  Long Live Performance-Art and Culture Makers Everywhere Throughout All Time!

Further Info:
Dixon Place survives and thrives now at 161-A Chrystie Street. 
This is a success story.  Not many have accomplished what Ellie Covan has.  
Here is some history from the Dixon Place website:

"In 1989, Ellie Covan, founding director, was a recipient of a Bessie, a New York Dance and Performance Award, for her service to the community; and Dixon Place received a Village Voice Obie Grant Award in 1990 and 1999. Additionally, in 1999, Dixon Place was awarded an Edwin Booth Award for Excellence in Theater. Open Channels NY, Inc. was founded in New York in 1982 by playwright Michael Slattery, director/composer Jim Fritzler, and performer/ director Ellie Covan, as an organization dedicated to fostering the development of visual, literary, and performing artists. From 1982 to 1985 Open Channels developed and produced a number of experimental theater projects. Through its sponsorship of Dixon Place, Open Channels provides a supportive venue for emerging and established artists to develop new work and seeks to build new audiences for this work. Dixon Place has at the heart of its mission the strong commitment to nurture artists during the process involved in the development of new work."

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Ellie Covan and Dixon Place

I met Ellie some 30+ years ago. We stayed friends for all these years because she is the most wonderful friend one could have. Endearing, funny, smart, heartwarming and fun to be with. We will miss the Ole' Dixon Place...But due to Ellie and her devotion to DP we still can attend wonderful shows from all disciplines at the current Dixon Place. I think it will be here for a long time to come! Bless you Ellie!