Carlucci Bencivenga, 38, an artist and ‘connector’


By Albert Amateau

Carlucci Bencivenga, a charismatic artist in media ranging from graffiti, video and new sound to painting and sculpture and a luminary of the Lower East Side arts scene, died Sun., Sept. 2, in his studio on Stanton St. at the age of 38.

He apparently died in his sleep and his body was found by friends who were expecting him to take part in the Art Around the Park event around Tompkins Square Park at the HOWL! Festival the following weekend.

As of Monday, the city’s medical examiner had not determined the cause of death.

“He was a very high-energy guy with lots of ideas,” said Roberto Ragone, executive director of the Lower East Side Business Improvement District. “Listening to him talk, you felt like you were riding a wave of words and ideas on a surfboard. He had a role in creating the BID’s E.L.S./L.E.S. tours — Every Last Sunday of Lower East Side artist studios,” Ragone said.

Anthony Zito, a fellow artist and a friend of 10 years, recalled Carlucci’s Stanton St. studio was “a maniacal menagerie of curios — filled with stuff he found in the street, with his work. I always thought of it as a changing art installation.” Zito noted that in a milieu where drug use was common, Carlucci was a paragon of drug-free living.

Born and raised in the Bronx, Carlucci was a member of the Morris Park Crew of graffiti bombers and his tag was ELF MPC, or ELF One. He was a graduate of the School of Visual Arts.

He was also a member of The Eternalists performance art group. A fellow Eternalist, who goes by the name of True, recalled Carlucci’s involvement with him in a new music performance.

“We filled a stage at the Knitting Factory with everything and anything that could make noise and ran around playing them,” True said. “We played in Judson Church for Movement Dance and at art openings.”

“Carlucci was a real neighborhood guy,” said Josh Boyd, who opened Gallery Bar at 120 Orchard St. in January of this year. “When we opened, he came and donated a piece of his art and helped us organize our programs,” Boyd said.

“He was a total magician. There was no one like him,” said Maggie Monaco, an East Village resident and friend. “He was a teacher to everyone. Anytime you engaged him in conversation you knew you were in for an intellectual roller coaster.”

He curated several art shows, including “Make Art Not War” with over 60 artists.

Carlucci was born in 1969 to Carl and Theresa Bencivenga, who survive him. A younger brother, Joseph, of the Bronx, also survives. The funeral was Fri., Sept. 8, in St. Clare’s Church in the Bronx and burial was in St. Raymond’s Cemetery.