A Mother-Daughter Video Team

A Mother-Daughter Video Team

Wendy Clarke’s way of rebelling against her mom was to not do anything artistic, though she eventually found herself making visual art. “Then I stopped painting and drawing, and just did video,” she said. “My mom and I became video artists, so we stopped what we had done before. We had lost interest because video was so exciting. It was so new. There was no history, which was very freeing.” After getting a New York State Council on the Arts grant to create video art, Shirley Clarke began acquiring video cameras, monitors, and other recording equipment. Unlike today’s portable digital cameras and mobile phones with high-definition video capabilities, Sony’s reel-to-reel DXC 1610 Portapak camera was quite bulky. It weighed about six pounds, not including the heavy batteries, external microphones, headphones, and other gear. As Shirley acquired more video equipment, her Chelsea Hotel penthouse became a hub for video aficionados of all kinds. “There were different groups that were happening in New York,” Wendy said. “We all would do these events at the Chelsea, on the roof.”

From Chapter 22 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Chelsea Hotel
222 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011