New York/Chelsea


Chelsea rooftop and Empire State Building — © Brian Rose

The picture above was taken while doing a walk-through of a building I will be shooting in the next couple of weeks. Having recently photographed several projects in California with green roofs–both low income and market rate–I was bit taken aback by the black rubberized roof on this building. The extreme heat from the surface immediately seeped through my FiveFingers shoes, which I wear most of the time, and I doubt I could have remained standing up there more than a few minutes. Not only does this increase the energy required to cool the building, it also adds to the heat island of the city, which has all kinds of negative impacts on the environment. I was told that the budget for this non-profit project was not sufficient for a more environmentally friendly solution.

There is no excuse for this. I am not necessarily blaming the developer and architect who are struggling to deliver a product on a shoe string budget. It is clear that without government mandates, tax incentives, and if necessary, subsidies for non profits, we are going to continue in the wrong direction.

Here’s a start.


Chelsea water towers — © Brian Rose

News report from here in the trenches:

Good news. I will be teaching a class at the International Center of Photography this fall inspired by my book, Time and Space on the Lower East Side. The class will photograph various aspects of the neighborhood, and then put together a book using Blurb, the online printing/publishing service. I am excited about the opportunity–it has been a while since I last taught–and I hope this leads to other teaching assignments.

Bad news. Princeton Architectural Press, which published my book The Lost Border, turned down Time and Space on the Lower East Side on the basis that it would have too limited an audience. I am not an expert in marketing, to say the least, but as someone with a nose to the ground, I know they are wrong about the audience. There has already been substantial interest in the book–I’ve sold at least 30 on my own–doing almost nothing. But aside from that, it seems that publishers–not just PAP–have forgotten the concept of taking compelling photography and selling it.

Good new and bad news. When I did the Lower East Side project in 1980 with Ed Fausty, the Bowery served as the western boundary of the neighborhood. It had its own character, of course, infamous as the skid row of New York. But we didn’t focus on the Bowery much, perhaps because it seemed like a separate enclave at the time. Since recommencing the project I’ve done many photographs along the Bowery, enough that they almost constitute a separate series.

With all the interest in the Bowery of late–museums and galleries, hotels and apartments, restaurants and boutiques–and the efforts to preserve some of the character of this previously maligned, but historic, place, I’ve decided to begin photographing the street in a more comprehensive way. The only problem at the moment is that there is no 4×5 negative film available. Fujifilm has stopped making the stuff, leaving Kodak the only supplier, and all the New York shops have it backordered. Uh oh.

When the film comes in I’m going to have to buy as much as I can afford and refrigerate.

One thought on “New York/Chelsea

  1. Mike Cannone

    That publisher sounds foolish. I guess it’s thinking its audience makes decisions geographically rather than photographically?By their thinking your Berlin books are only purchased by Berliners? Time and Space is a fine book – and I’m in So Cal. Go figure.

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