Thursday, May 23, 2024

During the lockdown days of the pandemic in early 2020, Aaron Rose found himself sifting through old papers in his home in Hollywood. “I can’t let anything go. I’m a hoarder. That’s why there were 200 poems from 1989 sitting in a box,” he said with a laugh.

Mr. Rose, 54, has held many jobs. When people ask him to pick a lane, he’ll say he is a “polymath,” which he knows is a cop-out. Fine, then: “Artist encompasses all of it.”

For 10 years from 1992 to 2002, he ran Alleged Gallery, the influential Lower East Side space where people like Chloë Sevigny and Chan Marshall hung out and a generation of artists like Mike Mills, Shepard Fairey, Tom Sachs, and Mark Gonzales got their start. He’s also a filmmaker known for the 2008 documentary “Beautiful Losers” about the Mission School art scene of the 1990s and “Portraits of Braddock,” which followed Senator John Fetterman when he served as mayor. Sometimes he paints, too.

And now, Mr. Rose is officially a poet, this month publishing “Blackout Poems”: a slim, pocket-size book he wrote from age 19 to his early 20s, scrawling his work on cocktail napkins, inside matchbooks, over shopping bags. Many were written at long-closed, indie spots known to attract those same “beautiful losers” he showcased: Mars Bar, Horseshoe Bar. The cover is a snapshot taken of Mr. Rose with a vicious shiner, the result of a bar fight at Max Fish on Ludlow Street, which happened to be a few doors down from his gallery.

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