This post is mainly pictorial: a medley of my recent photographs, selected chiefly because I found them visually interesting and, in some cases, significant as documents. As a group, these 49 photographs represent no particular theme or topic. Still, I have grouped them into eight categories as a way to control their arrangement.
My first category does refer to the one feature shared by all 49: they were taken this autumn, somewhere in New York City.
|Phillip Haas, Summer (after Arcimboldo), 2011, Bronx, New York Botanical Garden|
|Phillip Haas, Winter (after Arcimboldo), 2010, Bronx, New York Botanical Garden|
|Nelumbo, Alba Grandiflora, Bronx, New York Botanical Garden|
|Cercidiphyllum, Katsura Tree, Leaves, Bronx, New York Botanical Garden|
|Apples [R—>.L]: Bramley’s Seedling, Pink Pearl, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Egremont Russet from Black Diamond Farm|
|Zea mays indurata, Indian Corn (also Flint Corn)|
|Central Park, 86th Street Transverse Road, Manhattan New York City|
MUSIC & PERFORMANCE
|Janet Cardiff, The 40 Part Motet, 2001, Installation at the Cloisters, Fuentidueña Chapel, 12th century (Spanish)|
|Janet Cardiff, The 40 Part Motet, 2001, A Listener, Installation at the Cloisters, Fuentidueña Chapel, 12th century (Spanish)|
|Ned Rorem [foreground, standing], NYFOS Program: Ned Is Ninety, Merkin Concert Hall, Manhattan, NYC|
|Brandon Ellis, Cabaret Performer in support of Miranda Jonte play, Greasemonkey, at Don’t Tell Mama, Manhattan, NYC|
|Beat Boxing, 125th Street Station (IRT East Side Line), Manhattan, NYC|
|Dusty, 2nd Avenue Station (IND Sixth Avenue Line), Manhattan, NYC|
GALLERY ART & STREET ART
|Manolo Valdés, Untitled, 2013, Marlborough Gallery, Manhattan, NYC|
|William Kentridge, Showing & Vanishing/The Shadow of a Shadow, 2013, Marian Goodman Gallery, Manhattan, NYC|
|Michael Rees, Converge: Ghraib Bag, 2008, Broadway (between 58-59th Streets), Manhattan, NYC|
|Laocoön & His Sons, 2nd C. BC, Vatical Museum, Rome|
|Pyramid of Naked Iraqi Prisoners, 2003-4, Abu Ghraib Prison, Iraq|
But then, Rees’ sub-title, Ghraib Bag, as well as the tangled form of his sculpture, implies a connection to some of the pictures that documented sadistic and criminal atrocities committed by American soldiers on Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib (above, right). Given the fact that Poseidon sent a serpent to punish Laocoön, might we not view all three compositions of intertwined bodies as representations of punishment, divine or otherwise?
|Attilio Piccirilli, Columbus, D’Aurio Murphy Triangle, 184th Street, Bronx, NYC|
|Opportunity Reflection, Art In Odd Places Festival, Union Square, Manhattan, NYC|
Coming in from Denver, CO to participate in New York’s Art in Odd Places festival this fall was this group which called its project, Opportunity Reflection. They constructed elegant mirror boxes, into which the viewer peers (see the box on the far left with an oval cut-out for one’s face).First, however, the viewer selects one of several recognizable, faceless heads, such as the one of Mitt Romney that Peter (on the far right) is holding up. Then, while peering into the box, one contemplates herself/himself as the celebrity selected. You never know what you will find in Union Square.
|François-Xavier Lalanne, Sheep Station, 2013, Installation at Getty Gas Station, Chelsea, Manhattan, NYC|
Lalanne died five years ago, but his sheep continue to find (grazing) venues. In this case, the Getty Station on the corner of Tenth Avenue and 24th Street. Real estate developer Michael Shvo will soon begin construction of a luxury building on this site. In the meantime, he was able to appease his interest in art collecting, with the help of art dealer Paul Kasmin, by creating this wonderfully surreal, outdoor gallery in Chelsea.
|Anonymous, You Are Loved, Street Art, Inkpen Graffiti, West 22nd Street, Chelsea, Manhattan, NYC|
A stylized cartoon head and the words “you are loved” are quickly drawn on the indented panel of an old cast iron pilaster in Chelsea. This is one of those bits of under-the-radar graffiti that have a way of bringing mirth to the day those still willing to walk the city with open eyes and pocketed cel phones.
|Tribute to Fallen Street Artists, Revok & POSE, 2013, The Bowery Mural, Houston & Bowery, Manhattan, NYC|
HALLOWE’EN in MANHATTAN
|Red Riding Hood & Friends, #6 Subway, Hallowe’en Night, October 31, 2013, Manhattan, NYC|
|Mad Hatter Rides the MTA, #6 Subway, Hallowe’en Night, October 31, 2013, Manhattan, NYC|
|Adrianna & Eddie, #6 Subway, Hallowe’en Night, October 31, 2013, Manhattan, NYC|
|Mad Tea Party Table, Preserve 24 Restaurant, Hallowe’en Night, October 31, 2013, Manhattan, NYC|
|Ghoul, Times Square, Hallowe’en Night, October 31, 2013, Manhattan, NYC|
|Guy Fawkes, Duffy Square, Hallowe’en Night, October 31, 2013, Manhattan, NYC|
|Muammar & Friends, Times Square, Hallowe’en Night, October 31, 2013, Manhattan, NYC|
EVENTS & HAPPENINGS
|Churches Are Fake (Jesus Told Me So), Union Square, October 18, 2013, Manhattan, NYC|
I wished that I had talked to this young woman who is carrying that large, red banner urging us to “seek the living Jesus,” but she had enough struggles fighting the wind that worked its mischief on her banner. Clearly, some heavenly force was testing her commitment.Her message, however, is as old as the church itself, which many were already challenging in the 3rd-4th centuries A.D., as organized religion began to displace personal commitment. A contemporary example (which may be connected to this young woman) admonishes that “the lord Jesus is not in any church.”
|Pre-Earth, Union Square, October 18, 2013, Manhattan, NYC|
|WAFU, Busker Acrobats, Union Square, October 18, 2013, Manhattan, NYC|
|Bubbles in Vanderbilt Hall, Sonia Kashuk Promotional Event, Grand Central Station, November 4, 2013, Manhattan, NYC|
|Mile 20, Elite Men, New York Marathon, November 3, 2013, 3rd Avenue, Bronx, NYC|
This photograph was taken a block from where I live, recording the marathon’s token foray into the Bronx. At mile 20, eight of the elite men runners are still running in one bunch. Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai, seen here on the far right, would pull away from his peer group two miles later to win the race by 52 seconds in a time of 2:08:24.
|Talking Transition, Transition Tent, Duarte Square, November, 2013, Manhattan, NYC|
This temporary structure–a glass tent on Duarte Square–was designed by the firm, Production Glue, and its glass walls and roof are meant to be emblematic of transparency and openness (dare we hope, in government?).The design also made major use of plastic milk crates: for a sort-of entry propylaeum in front of it; for that big red arrow that you can see pointing down to the entry door; for large, block lettering that identifies the side of the tent; and for chandeliers, soapboxes and other interior decorative features.
How fitting for milk crates to appear so prominently in a building meant as a locus for an on-going dialogue between the people of New York City and their incoming mayor, whom many call “a man of the people!” After all, the ubiquitous plastic milk crate is probably second only to duct tape when it comes to products closest to the heart of the common man–all-purpose, do-it-yourself materials.
Mayor-elect De Blasio anticipates that this Talking Transition tent will expose him to grass roots solutions and “hidden gems.” He was quoted as saying, “if you give people a chance to offer their ideas, you’ll find an extraordinary number of New Yorkers who have positive, productive ideas.”This is a “‘think tent’ instead of a think tank” said Christopher Stone, president of the Open Society Foundations. Open Society (which is run by George Soros) and nine other groups developed the idea of Talking Transition well before New York had held its elections, by the way.
Over the fifteen days that Talking Transition took place, tens of thousands of New Yorkers participated in a wide range of events, talks, and opportunities to offer suggestions. The event ended with a “Town Meeting” in which a packed tent and on-line participants discussed three major issues that were prioritized from the two weeks of surveys: education; housing; police-community relations.
Among the participants were several veterans of Occupy Wall Street (OWS), and one of these, Goldi Guerra (of Occupy Staten Island) pointed out the delicious irony of having the setting in Duarte Square: “It’s really great that rich people finally think it’s cool, putting up tents in Duarte Square, ’cause this is something Occupy Wall Street tried doing two years ago, and all we did was get arrested.”
HOMELESS NEW YORK
|Sleeping, Union Square, Manhattan, NYC|
|Homeless on Broadway, Broadway between 14-13th Streets, Manhattan, NYC|
|Homeless: Happy Halloween, East 14th Street, Manhattan, NYC|
|Homeless: I Don’t Hurt, East 13th Street, Manhattan, NYC|
With hand-written signs on cardboard saying things like “homeless, no family, no support,” “happy hallowe’en, please help, some change, a dollar,” or “I’m homeless, I don’t steal, I don’t hurt people I ask,” the homeless of New York City have been making a reappearance on the streets in recent years.”Homelessness in New York City has reached the highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s.” Wages for low-income New Yorkers has fallen and, even more importantly, the number of affordable housing units also has fallen. Be aware that this June, New York had an all-time record of 52,400 homeless people, but these are only the ones who were sleeping in municipal homeless shelters. We have no idea how many “unsheltered homeless” there are–like these people, pictured above, on the streets.
The homeless issue will be a challenging one for the De Blasio Administration. However, we should keep in mind, as Ian Frazier wrote in the New Yorker, that “during the twelve years of the Bloomberg administration, the number of homeless people has gone through the roof they do not have.”
Clearly, the tragedy of America’s homeless is not the result of liberal policies. Rather, it is the result of “The GOP’s Poverty Denialism,” as Michelle Goldberg puts it. As she notes, in contrast to earlier Republican leaders who at least acknowledged the plight of the poor, today we “see on the right a combination of poverty denialism and outright contempt.” Of course, this attitude has its roots in an even earlier Republican, as Peter Dreier documented in a 2004 study for the National Housing Institute entitled, “Reagan’s Legacy: Homelessness in America.”
I included my photograph, You Are Loved, in the section on “Gallery Art & Street Art,” but it could just as well be here. These photographs capture those urban details that one might easily overlook or that will last only fleetingly. Each one can be a small, poetic encounter.
|New York’s Finest, West 42nd Street, Manhattan, NYC|
|Missing Avonte, Poster, Canal Street Station Elevator, Manhattan, NYC|
A graffiti-etched glass wall on Canal Street and a ripped poster of a missing, autistic fourteen-year-old make up a heartfelt poem, easily passed-over amidst the visual cacophony of Canal Street.
|Become Your Dream, James De La Vega, East Meadow Walk, Central Park, Manhattan, NYC|
|Coffee Break, Chelsea, Manhattan, NYC|
|Lipstick Break, Stairwell Window Ledge, DUMBO, Brooklyn, NYC|
NEW YORK DETAILS
|Turning West at Mile 20, November 3, 2013, St. Jerome’s Church, East 138th Street, Bronx, NYC|
|La Main de Madame, Madame Tussauds, 42nd Street, Manhattan, NYC|
Madame Tussaud offers a bit of surrealism to Times Square (which already is pretty surreal). I imagine that the hand–besides acting as an attention-getter–may refer to the fact that Madame Tussaud wax museums offer its visitors the opportunity to cast their own hand in wax. Thus, once sated with the museum’s 225 life-like effigies of stars and icons, you may “take your wax hand home and display it with pride, showing your friends and family that you are a star too!”
|Putti, New Victory Theater, West 42nd Street, Manhattan, NYC|
|Frieze & Beam, Spring Street Station (IRT East Side Line), Manhattan, NYC|
|Blue Shoes, Valentino window at night, Madison Avenue at 69th Street, Manhattan, NYC|
|Thor R Us, Times Square, Manhattan, NYC|
Finally, certain urban details just jump out more when encountered at night. I don’t know if blue is the fashion color for this season, but at night one can hardly miss these electric blue shoes in Valentino’s window.As for Thor (or actually Thor II, as in Thor: The Dark World), he (it?) has bulled his way well past $500 million in global ticket sales and past the first Thor, which earned $449 million. Thus, fittingly, as one of those heroes so many empathize with, Thor not only visually blends into the toy store logo at night, he emotionally becomes us: therefore my title, Thor R Us.