With everything from Saturday Night Fever to Soul Train, the 1970s were a transformative time for music. Where would we be without that scene of John Travolta, complete in flared white trouser suit, strutting his stuff on a light-up dance floor? The masses quickly caught on. People shimmy-ed to disco, freaked out to funk, and got down to glam rock.
Dance wasn’t the only way that the 70’s revolutionised the people. In fact, the 70s also saw an upheaval in the art scene too.
What a relief, therefore, that Crop Up Gallery hosted a combined arts and music event, ‘Groove is in the Art’, that gave us a taste for that 70’s disco fever. With the help of Lily Petkova, who we commissioned to create some psychedelic 1970s inspired projections, and Saul Sessions, who boogied on down from Sheffield to supply the funky music, the crowd were dancing to disco in no time.
Of course, Crop Up Gallery is first and foremost an art collective. But who can argue that art and music are anything but heavily intertwined? The late 1970s in New York are a brilliant example of the extent of cross-pollenation between these two mediums. While The Big Apple was crumbling, crime rates were hitting an all-time high. As unemployment and poverty rose, so too a new generation of radical artists and musicians emerged.
We only have to look at the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat’s rise to fame, a man whose work is synonymous with the late 1970s, to understand this. It simultaneously reflects the sense of chaos and uncertainty of the time, while showcasing a seemingly antithetical optimism too. As Michael Holman remarked, “whether you were a painter, an actor, a poet… you also had to be in a band in order to really be cool.” Jean-Michel, not one to miss out on being cool, formed his own experimental band ‘Gray’ in 1979. They only played a few gigs, but that’s no small feat when the likes of Talking Heads’ David Byrne and Blondie’s Debbie Harry regularly featured in the audience. In fact, Debbie Harry was one of the first people to ever buy a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, and he even featured as a DJ in Blondie’s music video for ‘Rapture’.
Hopefully by now we have you convinced. Art and music are one and the same. And whilst we may be an art collective at heart, that won’t stop us from getting down to some 70s music too!
Thank you to everyone who came to ‘Groove is in the Art’ and danced the night away with us, and we look forward to seeing you at our next event!
Special thanks to Lily and Saul Sessions.
Written by Alice Avis