Volume 74, Number 53 | May 11 - 17 , 2005

FEVA to honor ‘East Village immortals’ at benefit

By M.L. Liu

Essential, iconic and immortal.

Those are the words the Federation of East Village Artists is using to describe the achievements of its first five inductees into the FEVA Pantheon.

The inductees are poet Miguel Algarin, founder of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe; Tuli Kupferberg of the band The Fugs; Jonas Mekas, one of the founders of the Anthology Film Archives; and Ellen Stewart, founder of La MaMa Experimental Threatre Club. Poet Allen Ginsberg will be honored posthumously.

The FEVA Pantheon, a sort of counterculture hall of fame, will be enshrined in the group’s planned Museum of the Counterculture. FEVA is currently looking for space for the museum, which will also house archives, performance space and a gallery.

FEVA will also honor the art and activism center ABC No Rio and Veselka restaurant at the gala.

Established in 2002, FEVA, a coalition of artists, arts organizations, social service agencies and local businesses, strives to recognize past artists while providing opportunities for current artists, said Phil Hartman, the group’s founder and executive director. With input from FEVA’s board of directors and board of advisors, Hartman conceived of the FEVA Pantheon Gala, being held for the first time this year and which the group intends to stage on an annual basis.

FEVA staff and its board of advisors voted for this year’s inductees. Because this is the gala’s first year, the group wanted to honor individuals from the East Village who have made a “lifetime of contributions to the community,” according to Hartman.

The gala, which Hartman characterized as “an Academy Awards night for the East Village,” will be held the evening of Mon., May 23, at Capitale at Grand St. and the Bowery. Matthew Barney, Philip Glass and Deborah Harry of former Blondie fame are honorary event co-chairpersons. An auction, cocktail reception and dinner will precede the awards ceremony, which will be emceed by writer Jonathan Ames. A costume from a film by Barney and a guitar from the band Sonic Youth are among items that will be auctioned. Actress Kathleen Turner and other artists associated with FEVA will present the awards.

The group, which is anticipating between 800 and 1,000 people to attend, hopes to raise at least $50,000 from the event.

Proceeds from the gala will help fund FEVA’s many projects and events, including its annual Howl! Festival of East Village Arts in August, monthly salons for artists, a weekly radio program and the East Village Arts Lab, which FEVA developed with the 14th St. Y. The group is also currently developing the FEVA Visual Arts Center, which will be located in the new Lower Eastside Girls Club.

“[Our] priority is always to keep FEVA going,” said Hartman, who established FEVA in answer to the question of whether or not “the East Village was dead.” Hartman, who owns the Two Boots pizza restaurants and the Pioneer movie theater, is also a writer and filmmaker.

“There is no need to honor anybody,” inductee Mekas humbly said in an interview over the phone. “I don’t make a big deal out of it.” He expressed instead his respect for the other inductees and presenters, saying, “They love the Village as I love it. We all love the East Village.”

“We’ve come a long way, and it’s wonderful,” said Stewart, one of the inductees, in a statement.

Tickets to the gala are available online at http://www.smarttix.com and at the door. Tickets for cocktails, the ceremony, dance party and auction cost $300 each. Tickets to the ceremony and dance party cost $40 for FEVA members and $50 for the general public.

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