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Toyo Tsuchiya portraitHe was involved in the NO!art movement. He put a contribution to Boris Lurie's book "NO!art in Buchenwald". Toyo passed away from natural causes November 23, 2017 in his East Village home. He was 69.
Dietmar Kirves, NO!art headquarters east, Berlin
Clayton Patterson, NO!art headquarters west, New York


OBITS BY: twitter + Bowery Boogie + Ev Grieve + Villager + youtube #1 + ArtAsiaPacific + Art Forum + youtube #2 + Gallery 98 + instagram#1 + instagram #2 + Clayton's corner

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MISS ROSEN | Rest in Peace Toyo Tsuchiya | TWITTER, New York, on Nov 7, 2017: I am so honored to have had the opportunity to speak with you about your work, and thrilled your life's dream came true this year because of the good people at @HowlHappening:

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ELIE | Remembering Local Photographer and Art Luminary Toyo Tsuchiya | BOWERY BOOGIE, New York, on Dec 4, 2017: He passed away from natural causes November 23 in his East Village home. He was 69. The following farewell was written by Roman Primitivo Albaer, who is producing a film about No Se No and Rivington School.

rivington family
Memorial to Toyo with Rivington School friends and family, Photo: Roman Primitivo

I first met Toyo Tsuchiya in Mars Bar, the stinking dive of a place in the East Village full of misfits, losers, and the insane. He, along with Hamlet, curated art shows there. At the time, we traded a few words, and that’s all.

Yet, we really met last year when we started talking about doing a documentary on No Se No, a social club in the 1980s, and the Rivington School, an art collective sculpture garden, both located on Rivington Street. That’s when our friendship bloomed. He was like a Zen philosopher of his generation using a camera as testimony and reflection of something very transcendental that we call “youth,” capturing it all. He chose the camera over drawing and painting but in reality, he was a painter; at the end of his life, he had returned to the latter.

Toyo had a great sense of humor, and was knowledgeable about the arts from literature to poetry and film. An afternoon conversation with him could range from the Pataphysics of Alfred Jerry to the futurism in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.

His studio was full of photographs, with portfolios of more prints on the table. There were posters, flyers, newspaper cuttings, all about Rivington School, No Se No, and the art galleries of that era. Along a wall in the living room were four human size sculptures made with wire and newspaper, sitting in meditative poses. Like almost all his work, it was meditative and observant through the lens.

I say almost because he had huge drawings, too. He mastered lines on the paper – curves, verticals, shadows, horizontals, circles, squares – like two Samurai’s in action. He made giant drawings of humans but because of the confines of the apartment they couldn’t be displayed so they sat rolled in huge columns in another room, making it look like the ruins of a Greek temple.

Toyo had a deep sense of community and his outsider spirit was drawn to the edgy corner of the Lower East Side on Rivington and Forsyth, where there was something particular. No Se No (“I don’t know not”) was just opening, and the new owners kept the name from the old business (a Spanish social club). It was there that he found his tribe.

One of his black-and-white photos showed a woman in her mid 50s wearing high waisted jeans and a stripped t-shirt, holding a glass of beer and looking happy. At first I thought she didn’t look like she fit in the place with those younger artists but Toyo told me she was the wife of the super, and sometimes she came to the club to have fun. I then realized she was there because she was another outsider.

Toyo had a photographic memory. He could describe the circumstances around every photo he took. One of the last photos I saw was of two people on their knees in an empty lot taken horizontally. In the scene in front of the couple is a fire and we can see the wind because the flames were curving in the direction of those two silhouettes. If you looked further you could see a man and woman, the man resting his head on her lap, and the woman looks like she is trying to calm him down. The combination of the light of the fire, the big empty lot, and those two figures on the ground was like a Goya black painting – touching, and tragically beautiful. I asked him what happened. Toyo told me it was a day after Geronimo died and those two people were his friends. Geronimo was real, and then became a mythical character of Rivington School who was a friend, a gangster, and also put up the first sculpture in the garden. After he died the Rivington School garden started.

Toyo was a sensitive person. He was loyal to his path as an artist and near the end of his life was starting to enjoy the harvest of his work. In my mind is coming the play of Calderon de La Barca “Life is a Dream.”

Buen viaje, amigo…

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EVE GRIEVE, New York, on Dec 7, 2017 | Toyo Tsuchiya, a well-regarded artist and photographer who documented the Lower East Side art scene of the 1980s, died in his East Village apartment on Nov. 23. He was 69. Friends said that he died of heart failure.

Toyo Tsuchiya portraitHere's more about him via Howl! Happening, which presented a selection of his work in November 2016: Tsuchiya is best known for his photographs of NYC’s Lower East Side art scene in the 1980s and as an originator of the legendary Rivington School. In these highly personalized images of New York’s Lower East Side since 1980, Tsuchiya documented what was happening around him —the people, performance art, and the Lower East Side art scene — and especially the legendary underground movement of the collaborative Rivington School.

Born near Mt. Fuji in Japan, Tsuchiya grew up in Kyushu and Yokohama. After graduating from the Kanagawa Ken Technical High School for Industrial Design he began his career as an artist. Living in Osaka, Yokohama, and Tokyo, he studied and exhibited paintings, drawings and collage within a small circle of the 1970’s art world in Tokyo. In the late 70s he turned to photography, and soon moved to New York City.

Tsuchiya was a creative force behind the No Se No Social Club, the stage for many art happenings, including the 99 Nights, a marathon of free performances and exhibitions. In his photographs, Tsuchiya captures the style, energy, and free-spirited creativity of the time, and contextualized these happenings in a fine-art lineage.

On Tuesday, fellow Rivington School artist Monty Cantsin honored Tsuchiya on an East Village rooftop, where he painted the "6 O'Clock" Rivington School logo and Toyo's name before roping the piece off with (legally acquired) police tape.

The following is courtesy of Adrian Wilson: Cantsin spent four years working with Tsuchiya to collate photographs, posters and other ephemera relating to the Rivington School artists, publishing the first comprehensive book on the oft-lamented art group. Many of the Rivington School artists spread into the East Village, notably Linus Corraggio, who ran the Gas Station gallery on Avenue B at Second Street for a decade from 1985.

Longtime East Village resident Roman Albear was working closely with Toya on a Rivington School documentary, and only three weeks ago managed to bring six of the artists together for the first time in over 30 years to discuss their memories on film.

Sadly, this would be the last time Toyo appeared on camera (far left).

toyo three weeks ago
[Photo by Adrian Wilson]


ANONYMOUS said on December 7, 2017 at 12:51 PM: Thank you for this, Grieve. I'm always edified to learn more of our local artistic lineages. Very nourishing for the present. Rest in Power, Toyo.

ANONYMOUS said on December 7, 2017 at 1:46 PM: I knew Toyo from Mars Bar. Super nice person and wonderful artist. He will be missed. RIP.

ANONYMOUS said on December 7, 2017 at 9:36 PM: He did alot of amazing carpentry work for me, and I used to watch his cats... loved him...he was the best... the spirit is forever and eternal Toyo.

ANONYMOUS said on December 8, 2017 at 2:52 AM: wow this guy seems cool as shit. RIP.

ANONYMOUS said on December 8, 2017 at 9:45 AM: Toyo was a kind soul and a curious spirit. RIP Toyo!

LINUA CORRAGIO said on December 8, 2017 at 1:25 PM: linus coraggio here. toyo had the key quality of a photographer,he was invisible,i was never aware of him even holding a camera,let alone snapping a picture. the opposite of the classic obnoxious vibe stealing paparazzi type shutterbug like a baird jones,(who also shot in rivington school territory). i thought toyo was around 60 not 70 years old. he acted like a goofy,naive kid most of the time,full of wonder. i'm pissed he smoked too much and probably helped off himself when he had many more creative years within him. also how dare he leave the rivington school with no documentarian to disseminate his brilliant insightful views into a wild and seminal 1980's art movement. he was very concerned and discerning about with who and where his photos ended up,so i want his work to continue to be seen and not die with him. take note anyone with access to his pictorial trove! feel free to contact me if i can help. at least the rivinton school book came out before his death(''rivington school,80's new york underground''-available online). that's one place someone can see his amazing work.

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SARAH FERGUSON: Fiery send-off for Rivington’s Toyo | THE VILLAGER, New York, on Dec 7, 2017: Monty Cantsin made a fiery ritual for fellow Rivington School artist Toyo Tsuchiya on the corner of Rivington and Forsyth Sts., where the Rivington School Sculpture Garden once stood.

cantsin in honor to tsuchiya
Monty Cantsin put down some rubber cement to ignite in honor of his late Rivington School
comrade Toyo Tsuchiya. Photos by Sarah Ferguson

Tsuchiya — or Toyo, as everyone called him — passed away unexpectedly from heart failure onThanksgiving morning at the age of 69.

Arriving on the Lower East Side from Japan in the late 1970s, he devoted much of his art to documenting the Downtown performance spaces No Se No and Nada, as well as the anarchic happenings of the Rivington School — an art collective that created a mammoth sculpture out of abandoned cars and scrap metal on what was then a vacant city lot.

Tsuchiya and Cantsin published a book about the project last year, and a documentary is in the works. So it was only fitting that his friends and family chose to gather on this corner last Friday to pay tribute.

“I feel that Toyo’s spirit is here with us,” Cantsin declared.

Michael Carter walking in the fire at Toyo Tsuchiya’s memorial
Poet Michael Carter walking in the fire at Toyo Tsuchiya’s memorial.

Using rubber cement, he drew the Rivington’s trademark six o’clock symbol on the sidewalk, then lit it on fire.

“Art from nothing, art from trash, we ride the wave, we don’t come back,” Cantsin intoned as the flames left a black crust on the sidewalk. “Toyo is now in the eternal zone of the six o’clock!” he shouted.
Cantsin and others then spray-painted the symbol red and threw up some other Rivington tags on the wall: “Make Shit Happen!” and “R-U-O-K”

Poet Michael Carter showed up drunk and read a poem, then tried walking in fire. Surprisingly, no cops came.

Tsuchiya’s family is planning a more formal memorial later this month.

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AUB KAR | YOUTUBE, New York, on Dec 8, 2017: Family and friends gathered on December 2, 2017 at the corner of Rivington and Forsyth to pay tribute to Toyo Tsuchiya's life.

Memorial for Toyo Tsuchiya

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@sam.meyerson | INSTAGRAM, New York, on December 17, 2017: Drawing of @Aya_ayaka and her cat Seneca, by the late great Toyo Tsuchiya. Tragically, Toyo left us 3 weeks ago. He was a huge part of the Lower East Side art scene and a founding member of the #rivingtonschool. He was a lovely person and will be missed by so many. #toyotsuchiya #nycartist #nycphotographer #lowereastsideartist #eastvillageartist #japaneseartist #marsbarnyc #noseno #howlhappening @oricarino

sam meyerson

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SHAMMY PHOTOGRAPHY: Thank you Toyo | INSTAGRAM, New York, on December 2017: Shammy: Toyo portraitYou had such a wonderful spirit and I know it will live on through your art and through all the people you've touched. I will always love and admire the humble, generous, thoughtful, warm hearted man that you were. Thank you for letting me know you, thank you for your family, and thank you for all the kindness and love you've always shown me. I will always remember the Chinese buns you'd bring for Tobe and I, the Japanese curry you taught my mother how to make, the kitchen cart you made for me, the dinners we shared in Chinatown, Congee, our trip through Arizona, the lessons you've taught me, introducing me to Sapporo on 49th, the books you've given me, Christmas morning with bagels and lox (truly, it was the only one I've ever had), for teaching me how to play golf, for the pink socks you gave to my sister. I always thought of you, and I will miss you so dearly. Ori told me in Buddhism it helps the spirit move on if their loved ones are okay, if they remember and focus on the happy memories instead of letting the grief take over. You were the most caring man I knew, and now I will think upon all the good moments we've had, all the happiness you've brought into my life, my family's, and so so many others. You live on through us and through your work. I love you Toyo. Be well!

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BRADY NG: Toyo Tsuchiya (1948–2017) | ART ASIA PACIFIC, Hong Kong, on Jan 12, 2018: TOYO TSUCHIYA, Japanese-born artist and photographer, passed away on November 23, 2017, at the age of 69 in New York. Image via the artist’s Facebook.

Japanese-born artist and photographer Toyo Tsuchiya died of heart failure on November 23, 2017, at the age of 69.

Tsuchiya was born near Mount Fuji and grew up in Kyushu and Yokohama, and studied industrial design at a technical high school during his teenage years. After graduating high school, Tsuchiya decided to become an artist, so he studied art in Osaka, Yokohama and Tokyo, where he showed paintings, drawings and collages in the 1970s. In 1980, he left for New York with a three-month tourist visa and eventually decided to remain in America.

In his new home city, Tsuchiya switched gears and took on a documentarian’s slant. He used his camera to chronicle the Lower East Side’s art scene in the 1980s, often training his lens on outsiders like himself when revisiting the street corner of Rivington and Forsyth, ever quietly observant. Thinking back on his first two years in New York, the artist once said, “Everything was new to me. I was like a child. Even without a clear objective. I was busy enjoying everyday life. My camera was like another eye or another arm. I carried it with me all the time, like identification, and documented what I saw.”

In 1983, Tsuchiya met Ray Kelly, the founder of No Se No Social Club and the Rivington School, which is noted for its public sculptures made from welded scrap metal. It was at this juncture, when Tsuchiya began to document these communities as one of its members, that he transitioned from outsider to close associate. In particular, he photographed the many events that were staged at No Se No, such as the series of free performances and exhibitions titled “99 Nights,” as well as the venue’s many visitors.

Two years later, he moved into No Se No and directed exhibitions for the Rivington School, where he was one of the figures who spearheaded the establishment of its sculpture garden, located in an empty lot beside the intersection of Rivington and Forsyth. The sculpture garden was bulldozed by a real estate developer in November 1987. A second garden was established the same year, but was destroyed by the City of New York in June 1992.

In 1999, the Asian American Arts Center mounted the exhibition “Six O’Clock Observed,” a showcase of Tsuchiya’s photographs taken in New York in the two decades leading up to the presentation.

Though Tsuchiya carried a camera for most of his life, he returned to painting in his final months. His legacy is in the massive visual archive of the Lower East Side’s art happenings from three decades ago.

Brady Ng is the reviews editor of ArtAsiaPacific.
ArtAsiaPacific | GPO Box 10084 | Hong Kong |

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ARTFORUM, New York, on Jan 12, 2018 | Japanese photographer Toyo Tsuchiya, best known for his photographs of the 1980s arts scene on New York City’s Lower East Side, passed away in his East Village apartment on November 23, 2017, Brady Ng of ArtAsiaPacific reports. The artist was sixty-nine years old.

Born near Mount Fuji, Japan, in 1948, Tsuchiya studied industrial design at Kanagawa Ken Technical High School before he began to practice art in Osaka, Yokohama, and Tokyo in the 1970s. In 1980, he visited New York on a tourist visa and eventually made the city his home. Commenting on his move to New York, Tsuchiya said, “Everything was new to me. I was like a child. Even without a clear objective. I was busy enjoying everyday life. My camera was like another eye or another arm. I carried it with me all the time, like identification, and documented what I saw.”

The artist was one of the first members of the Rivington School, which grew from No Se No, a Puerto Rican social club that artist Ray Kelly transformed into an art gallery and performance space. In the summer of 1983, the venue sponsored “99 Nights” of performance, which Tsuchiya captured with his camera. Tsuchiya eventually organized exhibitions for the school and spearheaded the creation of its sculpture garden, which was demolished by a developer several years later. Tsuchiya’s work was featured in two solo exhibitions in 1983 and 1985. A midcareer survey of the artist, “Six O’Clock Observed,” was presented by the Asian American Arts Center in Chinatown, New York, in 1999. In his review of the exhibition, Holland Cotter of the New York Times said, “Tsuchiya’s photographs, often pasted together into wall-filling collages, feel like reports of life on another, hipper planet, of which little trace would remain were it not for his persistent and attentive recording eye.”

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YOUTUBE, New York, on Jan 29, 2018 | Toyo Tsuchiya, Rivington street ceremony video for Toyo with Rivingston School artists

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GALLERY 98, New York, on January 2018 | The Loss of a Lower East Side Art Stalwart: Toyo Tsuchiya, 1948–2017 | We here at Gallery 98 are sad to share the news of the unexpected death, on Thanksgiving Day, of photographer and artist Toyo Tsuchiya. We have had the pleasure of working with Toyo over the last four months, organizing Gallery 98’s most recent online exhibition, Linus Coraggio, Toyo Tsuchiya, and the Rivington School, 1983–95.

Toyo was an inveterate artist, a large presence in the Lower East Side art community, who continued to make new work right up to his last days. He is perhaps best known for his engagement with the Rivington School, the group of artists who clustered around the social club and performance venue No Se No (1983–87) and the junkyard Sculpture Garden at the corner of Rivington and Forsyth (1985–87). The Rivington School was, for Toyo, the “underground art” milieu he had sought when he left Japan, in 1980. His photographs and posters make up today’s best record of the School’s activity.

Over the last couple of years, Toyo received well-deserved recognition. He was the main contributor to the book Rivington School: ’80s New York Underground (Black Dog, 2016). That same year, a retrospective at the East Village art space Howl! Happening included his photographs, paintings, and sculpture, and was accompanied by a catalog of his performance photographs. Gallery 98’s exhibition spotlights his involvement with the Sculpture Garden, and his curatorial work for No Se No.

Toyo will be missed.

Toyo Tsuchiya: NO-SE-NO poster 1985
A poster for Toyo’s “99Nites” performance photos at No Se No, 1985.
From Linus Coraggio, Toyo Tsuchiya, and the Rivington School, 1983–95,
Online Gallery 98, 2017. © 2018 Marc H. Miller. All Rights Reserved.
Site by Haoyan of America

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CLAYTON'S CORNER on February 23, 2018 | At the Memorial for LES Documentarian, Toyo Tsuchiya [All Photos by Clayton Patterson] | If, in the early ’80s, Toyo Tsuchiya’s ambition was to be remembered as a serious New York City documentary photographer, he could not have picked a more overlooked and neglected piece of landscape than the Forsyth and Rivington Street area, between Delancey and Houston. At the time, it was a drug- and crime-infested subdivision.

Monty Cantsin
Monty Cantsin Amen with Angel Eyedealism

As an aspiring professional photographer, Toyo seized this part of the Lower East Side as his aesthetic concentration, thereby foregoing the careerists’ first choice of subject. For me, Toyo’s pre-Rivington School fame begins with his documentation of the wild ones, the forgotten ones, the uncivilized ones, the artists few could deal with then or even now. Toyo’s subjects were hard: poorly socialized, educated, but with an outsider point of view. Not easy to categorize. Individuals and original thinkers and doers. An uneasy group.


It was at his memorial at Howl! Happening last week that I not only saw another side of his creativity, but also his humanity. The beautiful side, the side that was overflowing with love; his friendly vibe and peaceful soul. People told stories of the various ways Toyo helped people. I gained an appreciation for how much Toyo meant to his family, his adopted family, those he took in as family, and his unusual collection of friends. He was first and foremost a family man, as well as an artist. Family was important.

Robert Parker
Robert Parker

Once the magic moment arrived, the audience became still. Renowned composer, violinist Jesse Montgomery played as Toyo’s slides rolled by. The memorial moved along at a comfortable speed, with the voicing of passionate thoughts and loving memories from a good cross-section of representatives from each period and section of his life. Gloria McLean performed a dance. Alice-ia Carin, Toyo’s adopted daughter, screened a short film. Michael Carter read a poem dedicated to Toyo. The walls were covered with a collection of large inked words in English and Chinese, short thoughts dedicated to Toyo’s memory, sent by the former Downtown creator, now living in Hong Kong, Frog King artist Kwok, Mang Ho.

Solei Silva_Carin
Solei Silva-Carin (adopted granddaughter

The community organizers and family created one of those rare special moments, a happening that will always be fondly remembered. No question that Jane, Ted, Carter, and all the assisting Howl! participants, once again, need to be thanked and given as much adulation we can produce. Thank you for putting up with us; we can be an ungrateful lot.

In the end, Toyo’s work – from No Se No to the Rivington School – must be saved. It is historically important, rare, with a definable personal style. He is certainly missed.

Angel Eyedealism

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