@ The Void San Diego
I was idly leafing through the unread preview copy of Richard Hell's recently published autobiography that has been lying on my dining room table, looking for Hell's account of the beginnings of CBGB's.
If you are someone who is interested in Art and Artists, you should be equally interested in Art Scenes: Times and places where great Art arises. Scenes give birth to and nurture Artists and they typically end up being a crucial part in any attempt to create a narrative out of disparate artistic efforts which occur in the same place/time.
In, I Was A Very Clean Tramp, Hell describes the "proto scene" that was at CBGB's as early as 1974. He describes a disparate group of semi-professional and professional musicians and music industry people, interested "kids" and professionals in other artistic disciplines. Obviously, these unrelated groups would coalesce into something that became quite influential in the history of 20th century popular music and art. They would become a "scene" and that scene would nurture a groups of Artists who achieved great popular and critical success.
The concept of an Art "scene" extends far beyond the local musicy sense in which it is often understood today. Scenes, historically, were quite concrete, often centering on a single venue/location or a small group of venue/locations in a specific neighborhood in a specific city. In the late 19th century the number and diversity of various Artistic scenes multiplied. By the late 20th century, certain re-occurring features of art scenes became knowable and apparent. For example, it was clear that places that had nurtured art scenes in the past were the proper place to expect the emergence of new art scenes. Also, the flowering of specific Art scenes was a very temporal phenomenon with a relatively knowable cycle of antecedents/ flowering/decadence over a period of 1-10 years.
The internet has changed that in ways that are presently unclear, but certainly the disspation of the more concrete elements of the role a venue plays in the developement of a specific artistic scene in a specific artistic discipline However this doesn't mean that venue is any less important in the development of art and artists. I would say the opposite. For example, venues can now use the internet to create their own artistic identity that exists outside of the physical venue itself. This separate artistic identity can have a strengthening or weakening effect on the physical venue.