Remembering the Fulton Street Fish Market

Art exhibit and readings commemorate the anniversary of the market's relocation

By Courtney Humiston
|  Monday, Nov 2, 2009  |  Updated 7:00 AM EDT
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Remembering the Fulton Street Fish Market

Original artwork by Naima Rauam

Old Fulton Fish Market

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It's been four years since the Fulton Street Fish Market moved to its fancy indoor refrigerated location in the Bronx and left Lower Manhattan behind. To commemorate the anniversary, "@Seaport," an art and performance space (located at the Seaport, get it?) is hosting the 4th Annual Remembering Fulton Fish Market.

The three-week-long event includes an art exhibit by Naima Rauam who has been  painting (and continues to in spite of the commute) scenes from the Market for four decades.

For the first years, when she was a student at the Arts Student League, she shared her studio space on Beekman Street with Meyer & Thompson Smoked Fish Company. And as a romantic young artist she was "attracted by the visual, emotional and historical aspects of the Fulton Fish Market: the dramatic light, the nocturnal hours, the city setting, the myriad varieties of fish, the street-smart people engaged in hard physical labor, and the market process itself."

She began making watercolors of the bustling scene and used her roommates fish crates as an impromptu gallery during the evenings and weekends, which she named, appropriately, "Art in the Afternoon (Fish in the Morning)."

The exhibit opens with a reception on November 5 and concludes with Fish Market Day, a program on November 22, where, unfortunately, fish will not be sold. Instead, Jack Putnam, the historian for The South Street Seaport Museum -- whose mission it has been to change the Seaports "just for tourists" reputation -- will be reading from his late friend's work, Joseph Mitchell, the New Yorker writer most famous for his story "Up in the Old Hotel" -- the Fulton Ferry Hotel that is. Putnam now presides over the the hotel's restoration and it is expected to reopen some time in 2010.

“It’s water that’s made Manhattan what it is," Putnam told The New York Times, "and water that will continue to make it what it is."

The statement is hauntingly reminiscent of Mitchell's fictional character Mr. Flood, an old man who lives on Fulton Street and believes he will live to be 100 by eating nothing but fish and four dozen oysters a day.

A suspicious, but tasty, diet.

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