Friday, January 7, 2011

Adam Purple's Garden of Eden

Tomorrow, January 8, marks the 25th anniversary of the destruction of The Garden of Eden, an earthwork created by Adam Purple that spanned five city lots on Manhattan's Lower East Side. A friend, the talented photographer and filmmaker Harvey Wang, who also directed "The Last New Yorker", documented the expansion of the gardens from 1978 to 1985. Most of these photographs are unpublished, so they'll be seen for the first time in an upcoming exhibit, and there will also be rare prints from a few of Adam Purple's own negatives on show.

Who is Adam Purple, you may ask? Here's a comprehensive article published in the New York Times in 1998 describing the now 80-year old hippie who has led a life full of purpose, who "went green" long before it was fashionable or easy, and whose living conditions have undoubtedly been uncomfortable and downright hazardous. Here's a terrific accounting at the wonderful Mr. Beller's Neighborhood website.

Here's a podcast interview with Adam Purple that you can listen to, and a video at Youtube.

When I was at school in the East Village in the 1980s, I used to see him on his bike, in full purple regalia, and occasionally spied him in Central Park...little did I know at the time that he was there to collect horse manure for his amazing garden creation. So taken was I with his costume that I took a picture of him, so it exists as a slide somewhere in my realm. Thankfully, Harvey has taken some really good photographs, and I look forward to seeing them.

Harvey is raising funds for an exhibit of these prints to be shown at FusionArts Museum at 57 Stanton Street, New York City, scheduled for February 2-20, 2011. I've made a donation to this project at Kickstarter; if you are interested and want to help out, please click here. UPDATE: They reached their goal! There's also a great VIDEO that you can watch there made by Amy Brost and Harvey Wang that will give you some excellent background on this fascinating man. I hope to be able to meet him next month!

All photos ©Harvey Wang


Urban Gardens said...

How have I managed to miss this in all my years here?
thank you for posting about this wonderful spot.

OvertheTop said...

You're welcome. I'm glad that you checked it out. I'll report back after the show. :)