Kickstarter Picks: Preserving the City That Was

Kickstarter Picks: Preserving the City That Was

September 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Kickstarter is a Lower East Side-based startup that helps creative people “crowd-fund” their projects.

MetroFocus regularly highlights local projects that seem to make the best use of this platform and have the potential to leave a lasting impression on the New York area.

This week’s Kickstarter picks are dedicated to preserving New York’s lesser known histories. The projects include a documentary about the rise of Latin “boogaloo,” the 30-year transformation of the Lower East Side as shown in photos and a film about two of the world’s most prolific, yet unexpected, modern art collectors:

We Like It Like That: The Story of Latin Boogaloo

The pitch: During the latter half of the 1960s, a generation of young Latinos formed their cultural and political identities in the streets of New York. They also rallied around a new sound: Latin boogaloo. (In case you couldn’t make the scene, Pete Rodriguez’s “I Like It Like That” is a quintessential example of boogaloo music.)

“We Like It Like That” is a new documentary that traces the roots of boogaloo and its connection to the city.

“This bilingual combination of Afro-Cuban music with R&B, jazz and rock has an ‘only in New York’ quality to it and I think it captures an important moment in New York City history that still resonates today,” said filmmaker Mathew Ramirez Warren.

Fans of the genre have speculated that music industry politics may have edged out boogaloo in favor of the more commercial-friendly sound of salsa, an idea that Warren explores in his film. Support for his Kickstarter campaign will help Warren finish a final edit and secure licensing rights for archival footage.


A trailer for Mathew Ramirez Warren’s “We Like It Like That,” a documentary that tells the story of the rise and fall and rebirth of Latin boogaloo.

Time and Space in the Lower East Side

The pitch: Over 30 years ago, a recent art school grad named Brian Rose spent a year exploring and photographing the gritty streets of the Lower East Side.

“In 1980, the Lower East Side was at its darkest but perhaps most creative moment. While buildings crumbled and burned, artists and musicians flocked to the neighborhood,” said Rose.

In 2005, Rose returned to the Lower East Side with his camera, intent on capturing the “jarring juxtapostions” of wealth and squalor, new and old, that originally attracted him. The photography book he hopes to produce is not a shot-for-shot reproduction of his original work, but Rose hopes to reveal the layers of history in a neighborhood that has transformed so drastically over the years.

Brian Rose has seen the Lower East Side change over the years. The photo on the left is a shot he took on Houston Street in 1980, on the right, Delancey Street in 2005. Photos by Brian Rose.

Herb and Dorothy 50×50

The pitch: This could really, truly only happen in New York. A librarian and a postal clerk spent over 50 years amassing a modern art collection of over 2,000 pieces. Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, married since 1962, stored their world-famous art collection in their one-bedroom Manhattan apartment until 1992, when they decided to move it to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.

In 2008, documentarian Megumi Sasaki produced “Herb and Dorothy,” an award-winning film that tells the Vogels’ story through interviews with museum curators and contemporary artists like Chuck Close, Sol LeWitt, Lynda Benglis and others. Later that year, the Vogels launched “Fifty Works for Fifty States,” a plan to donate 50 works from their collection to museums in all 50 states. With the Vogels at it again, Sasaki went back to the edit room. If she raises enough funds for “Herb and Dorothy 50×50,” Sasaki hopes to document the Vogels’ art giveaway, this time on a national scale.


Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, retired public servants of modest means, spent their entire lives amassing a prolific collection of contemporary art. They’ve spent their golden years giving it all away. After telling their story in a 2008 film, documentarian Megumi Sasaki introduces “Herb and Dorothy 50×50,” a sequel of sorts.