Jun 27, 2010

The art of heroin, part 2

As a follow up to last Wednesday's piece about the gallery show of heroin bags, friend of Stupefaction, Joly, eagle eye that he is, reminded me that longtime Lower East Side resident, writer, artist and historian, Clayton Patterson, has quite the collection of these items himself. He's been collecting them for more than 20 years, and back in 2006 the NY Times ran an article about him & his collection.

GENERATIONS of addicts have prowled the Lower East Side looking for a fix, and countless bags of heroin have changed hands there. The powder in those bags was quickly consumed; the empty bags tossed aside until most of them were blown away by the wind or washed away by the rain.

But some of them have found their way into a collection maintained by Clayton Patterson.

Mr. Patterson, 58, a photographer, has been collecting “dope bags” for 20 years. Some he found while walking the streets or visiting spots where addicts have congregated. Others were given to him by a revolving cast of characters who shared his fascination.

“This collection reflects a major part of the underground culture in this neighborhood,” Mr. Patterson said. “Dope dealing was one of the biggest parts of the neighborhood and one of the least documented.”

“We’re talking about relics from a Lower East Side street drug culture that is gone,” he said. “I think evidence of that time deserves to be preserved.” Continued here.

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