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Mad Hatters: New York Hats and Hatmakers

May 19 – July 31, 2016
September 8 – mid October 2016

Please note that City Lore Gallery will be closed from August 1 – September 7, 2016. Normal hours will resume on September 8th. Exhibits are free and open to the public. 

City Lore is pleased to announce its Spring 2016 exhibition, Mad Hatters: New York Hats and Hatmakers at its East Village gallery and cultural center on First Street with an opening reception on Thursday, May 19th from 7-9pm.

In New York City, every hat has something to say. New Yorkers wear many hats – literally.  Many of us get dressed from the hat down.  Whether we are going to Baptist church to the mosque or the orthodox synagogue, to the rumble or the dance, to the Easter Parade or the West Indian Carnival; whether we’re wearing a Hijab or a yarmulke, a Fedora or a Hamburg, a pork pie or a Leopard skin pillbox hat; whether you’re running for president or going to a Mets game, hats matter – and tell the rest of us who we are.  

“Cock your hat, angles are attitude,” said Frank Sinatra, a New Yorker at heart. Hats were so important during his time, that Mr. Sinatra had his signature fedoras specially designed with shorter brims than the average ones in order to appear taller to the untrained eye. Sinatra never left his hat at home and neither did the rest of the city during his time. Hats were a necessity, not only for fashion, but for blocking the sun as well. In the 1950’s, however, the mass-production of sunglasses and the prevalence of automobiles, not to mention James Dean’s coveted coif, ushered in a new era where the everyday hat was no longer needed. But New Yorkers have never left behind their love of hats. In a city of astonishing diversity and traditions, there are still a lot of mad hatters running around the streets of New York.

Mad Hatters showcases the identities that New Yorkers carve out for themselves by donning a simple piece of headwear in a crowded city. With special attention to the City’s defining grassroots folk cultures, the exhibit pays tribute to NYC’s master milliners while also documenting and celebrating the men and women who proudly wear hats to express their cultural traditions or simply for the hell of it.  The show features a series of special hats made for the show by the New York Milliners Guild, illustrating “New York hat-itude.”

Produced in collaboration with the Center for Art, Tradition, and Cultural Heritage and the Westchester Arts Council, which staged the show “Hattitude” in 2015 at their White Plains Gallery.

Made possible thanks to The Coby Foundation and The New York State Council on the Arts.

Exhibit image by Maxine Marie.

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