Downtown, Before the Gentry Moved In

The New Museum, two blocks south, offers the same kind of cognitive dissonance: a gleaming tower devoted to high-end globalized art, it is a similar product of gentrification. And yet, as a museum, it has the ability — some would say the mandate — to address its relationship to the past and its location. This is exactly what “Come Closer: Art Around the Bowery, 1969-1989,” organized by Ethan Swan, an education associate at the museum, does — and rather successfully for a small show.

The definition of art here is appropriately broad. A tattered Ramones T-shirt sits on a hanger across from the door taken from Keith Haring’s Broome Street apartment, blazoned with tags by graffiti artists like Fab 5 Freddy. (Interestingly, curators were made aware of the door by a museum security

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