Volume 78 / Number 21 - October 22 - 28, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Scene

When he voted in 2004 at the Puffin Room in Soho, Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler, then a press officer for Mayor Bloomberg, complained about the political art show at the Broome St. gallery, charging it was electioneering. Loathe to buck a top mayoral aide, the Board of Election agreed, and the Puffin Room hasn’t seen a voting booth since. That hasn’t stopped gallery director Carl Rosenstein from hanging political art. He still disagrees with the ruling about his ’04 show. While several of the pieces skewered then-Attorney General John Ashcroft — one poster depicted a storm trooper with a “H.S.S.” (Homeland Security Services) armband and the slogan “John Ashcroft Wants You” — Rosenstein noted Ashcroft was appointed, not elected. Rosenstein’s political art displays have caused even stronger reactions, however: In 2003, in apparent response to his “Shocked and Awe” show, someone tried to set his storefront ablaze. Rosenstein caught the fire while it was smoldering; it was deemed arson. “I’ve never told anyone in the media about it,” he confided. Above, Rosenstein stands by “Dance of the Doomed,” a work by Naomi Namba in his current exhibit. “This is the show voters in Soho would have seen,” he said. “It’s the expression of the First Amendment.”

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