Frankie Says: East End Arts Hits the Gritty Gotham Streets

Pictured Above: Frankie Neptune’s “Upstairs at Max’s with Cheetah Chrome, 1970s.”

The East End Arts Gallery in Riverhead is hosting a provocative new show, “Frankie Says,” featuring New York street scenes by Frankie Neptune, a street artist turned police officer who is now making mischief on the East End.

The three-week show at the gallery at 133 East Main Street opens on Friday, Sept. 6 with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. 

According to his biography accompanying the show, Frankie Neptune “photographed his surroundings with a gritty urban eye influenced by growing up in New York City.”

He drove a New York City taxi late nights and into the early morning hours in Manhattan while attending college, an experience that sharpened what he calls his “Gotham Esthetic,” arising out of an awareness and appreciation for the uniqueness of New York City.

Frankie Neptune’s film still of Debbie Harry for Inner-Tube

He worked with video artist Paul Tschinkel producing videos for the experimental cable television Inner-Tube series, and in the 1970s and early 1980s had video presentations at The Kitchen and exhibited photography at The SoHo Photo Gallery and 55 Mercer Gallery.

During that time, he sold his photography on the streets of SoHo and Midtown while continuing to document the Gotham Esthetic with 35mm Kodachrome slides, “not realizing that the scenes he depicted would eventually change and vanish.”

He also experimented with Polaroid SX-70s, as well as reverting to an autofocus 35mm camera “to avoid the sterile and exacting biomedical photography standards that had bored him at his daytime faculty post at a medical teaching university.”

Frankie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Arts and Sciences, and a Master of Science degree in Instructional Technology.

As somewhat of a prank, Frankie took the New York Police Department’s Police Officer exam. The city called him and he decided to take the job, as a mid-life crisis/performance piece. His plan was to leave the NYPD after a year or so, but he realized “being on the front row to the greatest show on earth was just too much fun and exciting to give up.”

He stayed with the NYPD and became a Sergeant and then Lieutenant, assigned to specialized units within the department. 

Over the years, he lost interest in photography and video, and gave away or lost about half of his photographic images and videos.

Frankie retired in the early 2000s, and relocated full-time to the North Fork, where he has participated in exhibitions including “The Great Cheeseball Challenge,” “Pseudonyms” and East End Arts’ summer 2019 exhibition “Detour.”

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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