End of summer musings, Hudson, New York.
Above is the future home of the Marina Abramovic performance art center.
In the middle of doing an exhibition at Dillon Gallery, and releasing my book about the Meatpacking District, I got a very special architectural photography assignment. The newly renovated Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University. It’s one of the most awe inspiring buildings in the Collegiate Gothic style. Designed by James Gamble Rogers, it was completed in 1930. It follows the basic form of a cathedral with central nave, side aisles, transept, and sanctuary.
From Wikipedia: A mural in Yale University’s Sterling Memorial Library depicts the Alma Mater as a bearer of light and truth standing in the midst of the personified arts and sciences, painted in 1932 by Eugene Savage. Throughout the building the various crafts of the period are celebrated — stained glass, stone carving, decorative painting, and cabinetry. Those elements, combined with the lightness and airiness of the architecture, make it a 1930s building. There are even hints of Art Deco in the tower housing the book stacks rising behind the nave.
The building was restored mostly to its original appearance. The card files, which are no longer used, hide heating, air conditioning, and electronic systems. It’s essentially a modern building underneath. It was a two day shoot and a ton of post production Photoshop work. But what a privilege to get this kind of a job. The preservation architecture was done by Helpern Architects.
Spoonbill and Sugartown book store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn — © Brian Rose
New!!! — Brian Rose — Signed — Meatpacking
Walked down the street yesterday and discovered my name in lights, or rather on a whiteboard.
An interview in Joe Bonomo’s blog No Such Thing As Was.
I want to engage and provoke, but not preach. I want people to overlay their own mental maps of the city onto mine, and in the process look at things differently, see things freshly, re-examine their relationship to the familiar. The story in these pictures is yours as much as it is mine.
Interview in Cool Hunting. Takeaway quote:
But in 1985 you could stand alone in the middle of Washington Street surrounded by this all encompassing decrepitude, almost post-apocalyptic in its emptiness, and you’d find yourself saying, “This is fantastic. This is unreal.” There was a kind of perfection in that moment. But at the same time, you knew that it was a lie. That people were dying of AIDS, people were strung out on drugs, and buildings were crumbling.
A lengthy interview in American Photo. Kind of rambling all over the place, but maybe in an interesting way in that I occasionally veer off from my usual talking points. I describe waiting for something to happen on the street while doing the “after” view of Washington Street and West 13th.
You go back here and you stand in the same spot and you think—okay, this looks kind of antiseptic compared to the way it did before. I would just camp out for 15-30 minutes and just kind of watch the flow of what is going on. When you are standing there for a period of time, there is constant flow of people, so the sense is that it’s busy. When you do a little slice of time it can actually seem empty. You only have one half a second and you just catch a few people. A lot of times you have to wait for things to happen to activate the frame a little bit. This is another one — I was there for 15-20 minutes and wasn’t too excited about what I was getting and the suddenly this car comes screeching around the corner with these guys in sunglasses and this vintage top down convertible and it just screamed at me: “This is who we are now. This is what we do now.”
But the best takeaway from the interview, perhaps, is this:
I think the sense that people have of then and now is too easy a way of trying to understand places…. You start to understand that there is some other kind of space between then and now. There is another kind of landscape that is out of time that I’m looking for. I’m looking forward and backward at the same time. I’m not a sentimental kind of photographer. I don’t really go for that kind of thing. I wanted to stay away from doing a nostalgia book. I wanted it to be a book about now and where we have come from.
Bob Hill from his blog I Fear Brooklyn:
Brian Rose has done the same for the Lower West Side with Metamorphosis that he and Edward Fausty previously did for the Lower East via Time & Space. Both exhibits ooze sweet melancholia, reminiscent of a scene from Season One of Mad Men during which department store heiress Rachel Menken explains: “Utopia – the Greeks had two meanings for it: eu-topos, meaning ‘the good place,’ and ou-topos, meaning ‘the place that cannot be.’” Time and again, Brian Rose has done an exemplary job of negotiating a 30-year difference between the two.
Metamorphosis is now available on my website, and I will be getting the book into stores soon. Most of the Kickstarter books have been sent out. The exhibition at Dillon Gallery runs through August 15.
I will be at Dillon Gallery for the Chelsea Art Walk from 5 – 8pm this evening, July 24. My new book, Metamorphosis, will be available for purchase and signing. If you missed the opening a week ago, It’s your second chance. Hope to see you there.
555 West 25th Street
(between 10th and 11th Avenues)
It has been two years and one month since I released Time and Space on the Lower East Side. The trade edition of the book is now “sold out.” Approximately 1,000 copies sold. There are still a few books floating around in stores, and I know that my gallery still has some. Anyone who wants a copy should contact me directly, and I will see what I can do to find one for you.
The limited edition is still available. It comes in a slipcover with an 8×10 print inside. $250. The limited edition can be ordered here.
After a couple of years of promoting Time and Space, it’s sad to see it go. At the same time, however, my new book Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013 is now available. The books arrived last week, and I am now busy sending them out to Kickstarter backers and those who pre-ordered. Metamorphosis can be order here.
The two books together make a great set, and in another couple of years, I hope to come out with a third — WTC — photographs of the World Trade Center from 1978 to the present.
Last week’s opening at Dillon Gallery was a success despite rainy weather. The exhibit of my Meatpacking District photographs will be up through August 15. Don’t miss the chance to see these stunning 4×5 foot prints.
I am pleased to announce the opening of my second exhibition at Dillon Gallery in New York. The show will include a dozen 4×5 foot prints from Metamorphosis, my book about the Meatpacking District. I am hoping that books will be available at the opening, but I am still waiting for the shipment. At the very least, there will be a few copies of the book in the gallery.
Look forward to seeing you there.
555 West 25th Street
New York, New York
July 15 – August 15
Exhibition Opening and Book Launch
Tuesday, July 15, 6-8PM
Sponsored by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. A slide talk and presentation of my book (shipment arriving any day now). I will, at the very least, have a copy or two at the event. Be sure to reserve seats. These GVSHP programs fill up quickly.
Photos of Gansevoort Market / Meatpacking District by Brian Rose
Wednesday, July 9
6:30 – 8:00 P.M.
Free; reservations required
Washington Square Institute
41 East 11th Street, near University Place
In the winter of 1985 Brian Rose spent several days wandering the streets of the Meatpacking District with his 4×5 view camera. It was different city then; edgier and less peopled. While the Meatpacking District bustled in the early morning hours as the city’s primary meat market, it slumbered, almost abandoned, during the day. He never printed those photographs of the Meatpacking District, and went on to other projects. But last year he retrieved the box of negatives from his archive and began scanning. He was stunned to rediscover these images, made with little artifice, unforced in their clarity. It was like looking at New York as a stage set while the actors were away taking a break.
In the summer and fall of last year he re-photographed the Meatpacking District, repeating many of the earlier images and making a number of new ones. The result is this new book, Metamorphosis, that shows the profound transformation of the neighborhood. Books will be available for purchase and signing.
Before the fireworks on July 4th. Rain and clouds dissipated as a front passed through leaving clear skies and chilly (for the season) temperatures. To the right is One World Trade Center, the Williamsburg Bridge and the chimney of the Domino Sugar Refinery.
The Brooklyn Bridge, 100th anniversary, 1983 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose
Happy Independence Day!
After a number of years, the fireworks return to the East River. The above photo is a reprise of one of my “best hits.” A picture taken in 1983 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Brooklyn Bridge. Thanks to a connection to the developer of the South Street Seaport, I had a spot among the rocks and sand at the edge of the river. There were a few other photographers around, but I was the only one crazy enough to shoot with a 4×5 view camera. And unlike the others, I used a wide angle lens to take in the entire scene.
Fortunately, it was not too windy, and I tried about a dozen wildly varied exposures. Because of the calm, smoke hung low in the air, and the second tower of the bridge is barely visible in my photograph. Remarkably, the negative is razor sharp without the slightest camera shake. It makes a great large print.
In photographing New York, one is frequently confronted with world famous icons — the bridges, skyscrapers, monuments. It’s all been done. But rather than worry about it, I just treat everything equally, seen as any pedestrian might see it. The trick sometimes is not about framing the extraordinary thing, but rather treating the extraordinary as a normal and unprivileged part of the landscape.
And then add fireworks!
My contribution to the book done by my ICP class, Photographing New York: the Lower East Side. Three images of street basketball in Sarah D. Roosevelt Park. This is a world I know well having spent years playing on New York City courts. My knees are shot now, but I still get out there now and then. And I work with my 15 year old son, Brendan.
There are moments of peak action, bodies in perfect equipoise, the kind of thing you might see in Sports Illustrated — even on the playground. But I’m more interested in the faces transfixed by the ball somewhere out of the frame. The various shapes and sizes of the players — tall and lean, short and dumpy. The transient moments, the downtime, the shuffling for position between plays, the walk off at the end of the game.
Above is a preview of the book done by with my ICP class, Photographing New York, the Lower East Side. Each student selected some aspect of the neighborhood to photograph, and we then put the work together as a book using Blurb, the online print on demand service.
It’s a pretty cool book, done in just eight weeks time. And it’s a wonderful teaching process — although a bit stressful — in that it demands working in a focused purposeful way on a tight schedule. This is the third time I’ve taught this class, the third book, and each one is different. Each class has it own dynamic, and its own collection of personalities. Some of the photographers are relatively experienced and have a good grasp of things creatively and technically. Others are still struggling to find their way.
The challenge is to get everyone working individually and collaboratively with the goal of creating something potentially lasting — a document of place and time — and a tangible object that is publicly available. Working together like this elevates the discussion, asks each student to consider larger issues, and locates their work in the context of the important photographers who have made the Lower East Side their subject.