Along the High Line.
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.
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
Have just received two copies of the completed book sent by FedEx from the printer in Hong Kong. The rest of the books are en route by ship, on schedule for an early July delivery. All I can say is that the book looks stunning. If you’d like to pre-order go here.
On Friday I was in the lab printing for my upcoming exhibition.
The book launch and exhibition opening will be July 15th at Dillon Gallery on W25th Street in Chelsea, just a few blocks north of the Meatpacking District. There will be 12 images in the show, each printed at 4×5 feet. An invitation will be sent out later.
This is all pretty exciting!
This is the last step. Up till now I’ve been looking at digital proofs, which give a rough idea of color and density. Yesterday, we received the F&Gs, folded and gathered signatures off the actual press. They look spectacular!
The books are now on the press being printed, and I expect to get several copies FedExed to me from Hong Kong in the next week or so. The rest of the books will come the slow way by ship and will arrive at the beginning of July.
It’s been a remarkable experience doing this book. Rediscovering the negatives made in 1985. Scanning them. Showing the images around. Rephotographing the neighborhood. Sequencing the photos and designing the book. And then, getting it printed. All in less than a year and a half. Whew!
I approved the final proof of the cover last Tuesday, and expect to have books in a few weeks. Unfortunately, it will be a small shipment sent by air. The rest of the books will travel by boat from Hong Kong, and will take a number of weeks. So, we’re still looking at July for the release of the book.
The Kickstarter campaign for my Meatpacking book is now over with 163% of my goal reached. Now we can take that posh vacation in the Caribbean that we’ve been dreaming about all through this — barely over — snowy winter in New York.
No, no, no. Just a joke. The money raised only pays for part of the production of the book. We’re still stuck here in this, so far, shivery spring, as baseball season begins, with lots of work to do to make this book a success.
The good news is that over 250 books have been sold out of a first printing of 1,000. And the book hasn’t yet shipped from Hong Kong. That’s a spectacular start. My 210 Kickstarter backers came from all over the world — in fact, 25% of them were from outside of the United States. It proves what I’ve been saying all along, that books like this about New York City have a potential reach far beyond the sometimes parochial view of things here in this little burg.
There are a lot of people to thank for helping make this Kickstarter campaign successful, particularly Jeremiah Moss, who wrote the foreword to the book, and got things rolling with a terrific post on his blog Vanishing New York. A number of other blogs picked up on the story including Bowery Boogie, Curbed, Untapped New York, Reciprocity-Failure, and the Swiss news/entertainment site Watson.
I’ll be providing details later, but mark your calendars. Exhibition opening and book launch, July 15th, Dillon Gallery, West 25th Street in Chelsea, just a few blocks north of the Meatpacking District.
Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013, back cover image — © Brian Rose 1985
Reached my Kickstarter goal — again. Yesterday, I announced that I had succeeded in my fundraising goal, and began receiving congratulations. But within a few minutes, a $500 backer cancelled his pledge, which I didn’t even know you could do. My moment of triumph was coldly snatched away. Do you think people do things like this on purpose? Anyway, I was not too worried that I’d make up the lost ground soon.
So, a little muted cheer for the second time around. The balloons have already been released, the champagne uncorked and flat, and the band disbanded — except for the tuba player. Blurp Blurp.
Thanks once more to all my supporters. Keep the momentum going. There are still 13 days to go.
Cover mockup of Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013
At 65% of my Kickstarter goal with almost three weeks to go!
Metamorphosis is no longer an abstraction. Yesterday, I saw the first proofs of the cover and the inside pages. They look terrific. The book in the photo above is actually a proof print of the cover wrapped around a blank dummy of the book. The blank let’s us see and feel the weight of the cover boards, paper, and the overall heft of the book. We placed it next to a copy of Time and Space on the Lower East Side for comparison. The red pages are the endpapers that line the inside of the front and back covers.
It’s exciting seeing the book turn into a reality. But your support is needed now as the financial reality of taking on this project looms. Pre-order via Kickstarter and get your copy of Metamorphosis at a discounted price. It’s going to be a really cool book.
Off to a good start in my Kickstarter campaign. Please help make this book a success. Here’s my video pitch made on the streets of the Meatpacking District:
Final Cover Design for Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013
In the winter of 1985 I spent several days wandering the streets of the Meatpacking District with my 4×5 view camera. It was different city then. Edgier, less peopled. While the Meatpacking District bustled in the early morning hours as the city’s primary meatmarket, it slumbered, almost abandoned, during the day.
I never printed my photographs of the Meatpacking District, and went on to other projects. But last year I retrieved the box of negatives from my archive and began scanning. I 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 I re-photographed the Meatpacking District repeating many of the earlier images and making a number of new ones. The result is a book that shows the profound transformation of the neighborhood from abottoir to the epicenter of fashion and art.
As I wrote earlier, my book about the Meatpacking District is well underway. Above is the cover featuring a photograph of Washington Street from 1985. It is, in many ways, a companion to Time and Space on the Lower East Side. Metamorphosis will be the same size with similar binding and layout, though we have pushed the graphic design a little bit more on this one.
Time and Space was a complex look at a large neighborhood with many interwoven visual and thematic threads. Metamorphosis is a tighter concept — 18 before/after views and 14 new images of this relatively compact neighborhood, all made with a 4×5 view camera. As before, I shot color film, and have scanned and color corrected the images in Photoshop.
The whole project (aside from the pictures made in 1985) was done in a very short time frame — less than six months — giving the book an immediacy that I think is rare. There is no way something like this could be done with most established publishers, who normally need long lead times and require much collaborative deliberation. Publishers often promote this aspect of book making, and I think overvalue their role in what often should be an artist/photographer’s unmediated statement. It depends, of course, on the circumstances, and many fine photo books have been made with only modest input from the photographer.
That’s not to say that this book was done without collaboration. I worked with Bill Diodato, photographer and publisher, and a small team of technical/design mavens. It has been a fruitful partnership.
As with Time and Space on the Lower East Side I will need to do a Kickstarter campaign to help cover the cost of printing. The economics of doing photo books like this are difficult. The barriers to success, from production to distribution, are high. But this will be my fifth book, and I have a good deal of experience at this point, and know how to make it all work.
Stay tuned for the next step.
My Meatpacking book is now in production, and I’m working with the same publishing team as the last time led by Bill Diodato. It will have 50 images–about 40 of them before/afters (1985/2013) and the rest will be newly made images. The picture above is one of the new ones. Although the original set of photographs made in 1985 were not an attempt at comprehensively describing the neighborhood, they did in fact hit many of the key spots. The High Line, in its two incarnations as the abandoned rail viaduct and high concept park/promenade, will be a strong presence in the series.
The working title is:
Meatpacking District 1985/2013
I am hoping for external funding for the book, and hope to have some idea of that soon. I raised money on Kickstarter for Time and Space on the Lower East Side, and I may have to do it again for this book. Aside from the money, Kickstarter is a good way to generate interest for a project and build momentum. But doing it is a lot of work, and I’d be happy to avoid it this go round.
Two sets of before/after images taken in Chelsea on 23rd Street. Both feature two of New York’s most imposing buildings. The Starrett-Lehigh Building on Eleventh Avenue, which was built in the early ’30s as a distribution and warehouse facility near the docks on the Hudson River. Trains could load and unload inside the building, and trucks could be lifted to any floor. Today, it is the home to businesses in the creative fields, and virtually everyone has at one time or another seen ads shot in the photography studios in the building. London Terrace was also built in the early 1930s as the largest apartment building in the world. It still houses thousands of residents, though it is now divided into separate co-op and rental complexes.
Throughout most the 20th century, the west side of Manhattan was dominated by the docks along the Hudson River. It was a bustling area employing thousands of longshoremen back when cargo was handled piece by piece. As shipping moved to containers, which could be lifted by crane and transported by train or truck, the vast Hudson River industry was transplanted to New Jersey with plentiful horizontal space, and easy access to mainland highways and rail lines. The west side went into steep decline.
The edginess I encountered in 1985 has mostly disappeared. In the top photograph the Terminal Hotel was a seedy place fed by the prostitution and drugs that haunted the area. It’s now a more cleaned up budget hotel that, needless to say, does not cater to the wealthy patrons of the nearby art galleries.
When London Terrace was first built, the residents on the west end of the building would have looked down on trains moving along the High Line rail viaduct that serviced the adjacent piers. It was an outpost of relative gentility bordering on the rough and tumble world of the harbor district. Later, they would have looked upon an abandoned High Line, and largely desolate streets.
Now, London Terrace stands at the center of the Chelsea gallery scene occupying the former warehouses. Initially, the developers and property owners wanted the HIgh Line torn down, and they generally opposed the creation of the High Line park, which has become an international tourist destination. They were shortsighted, as so often comes with the territory, and the High Line has become a profoundly valuable urban amenity. One wonders how long the Chelsea galleries will survive the upward arc of real estate values. One wonders, as well, when the gravy train runs out.
I’ve been hard at work on my Meatpacking before/after series. Most of the direct then and now pictures are done, and I am continuing to do new views of the area as they present themselves. Many of the 1985 pictures were taken on bleak winter days with minimal sunlight. Lately, I’ve been stuck with crisp and pristine fall days, which sometimes work in my favor, sometimes not.
One shot I’ve been trying to replicate was taken on 10th Avenue where the High Line runs along the street and takes a jog to the west where it then runs mid-block. The original photo shows a rundown tenement with an impressively decrepit “liquors” sign. It was taken in open shade with weak sunlight coming up 10th Avenue from the south.
Today, the basic infrastructure of the scene remains unchanged. The tenement remains, the High Line still hovers above the street, and the immense warehouse building looms behind. But everything else about the former situation has been altered. The unbroken brick facade of the warehouse has been punched with windows to accommodate offices, the tenement is no longer decorated with signage, and a boutique occupies the ground floor storefront. The High Line is, of course, no longer an abandoned rail viaduct, and at this spot, where it crosses 10th Avenue, a window cut into the steel overlooks the street. People are everywhere where few once ventured.
The weather finally worked for me at this location with the sun straining through light clouds. The liquor sign no longer dictated a vertical composition, so I took a wider view showing people peering through the window on 10th Avenue.