Inspiration came to Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, a French filmmaker, while location scouting in NYC. He fell in love with a boarded up building in Bushwick, then squatted in it until he owned it.
Inspiration returned when Jean met up with Gregory Baubeau, a friend from the film industry. They decided to turn the building into a bar. Inspired by wild tales of Café Bizarre, a bygone legendary Greenwich Village club, Bizarre opened in January 2013. While researching the neighbourhood, Jean discovered Meryl Meisler's photos of 1980s Bushwick.
Jean met Meryl at her exhibits at The Living Gallery during Bushwick Open Studios (BOS) 2012 and 2013 and invited her to exhibit at Bizarre. At first Meryl was reticent about exhibiting in the basement of a bar, then inspiration hit like a lighting bolt as she eyed a disco ball hanging in Bizarre's restroom – this would be the perfect place to show her never seen Disco and Bushwick photographs together. Bizarre exhibited Meryl's iconic photographs from the '70s & '80s and published her monographs A Tale of Two Cities Disco Era Bushwick (2014) and Purgatory & Paradise SASSY ‘70s Suburbia & The City (2015), receiving international acclaim.
What else goes on at Bizarre? Get a glimpse of acrobats, artists, burlesque, circus, drag kings and queens, exhibitionists, fire spinners, magicians, musicians, poets, patrons and performers through Meryl, Jean and Gregory's eyes. Think the best of times are gone? Visit the new exhibition that combines all of their photography at Bizarre's Black Box Gallery on Jefferson Street, Brooklyn from Saturday 1 October. More info at www.bizarrebushwick.com.
Via direct submission | All images credited to their artists, main image: © Meryl Meisler