Category Archives: Greenwich Village

New York/Out with the Old, In with the New

frontcover

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.

 

New York/Slide Talk

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.

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GVSHP website

Metamorphosis
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

meatpack

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.

To register, please call (212) 475-9585 or email.
GVSHP website

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New York/The Book!

metamorphosis_coverFinished book cover — © Brian Rose

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.

metamorphosis_printSteve, the technician at Beth Schiffer Creative Darkroom, rolling prints as they come off the machine.
© Brian Rose

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!

 

New York/Final Proofs

f+gMetamorphosis F&Gs — © Brian Rose

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!

 

 

New York/Meatpacking District

perrier_article

An article in Société Perrier about my upcoming book Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013. Written by Jim Allen who is branching out a bit from his usual music beat. 

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.

 

 

New York/Kickstarter Success

finalgoal

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.

 

 

New York/Bowery Boogie

boweryboogie

An interview in the blog, Bowery Boogie.

BB: What do you hope people will take away from Metamorphosis?

BR: More than anything I hope that people will learn to see what is around them and in front of them everyday – the city hidden in plain sight.

Read the whole thing here.

 

New York/Goal Reached — Again

metamorphosis_backcoverMetamorphosis: 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.

 

New York/Book Proofs

cover_proof_smallCover 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.

 

 

 

 

 

New York/Kickstarter Campaign

metamorphosis-cover_700pxFinal Cover Design for Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013

Please help make this book a reality.
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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.

 

 

New York/Meatpacking District

metamorphosis-cover_700pxMetamorphosis, Meatpacking District 1985+2013 — © Brian Rose

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.

 

 

 

 

New York/Colorful Past

There’s been lots of discussion about whether Inside Llewyn Davis by the Coen brothers is an Oscar-worthy masterpiece or a dismal failure. Whatever the case, I’d like to briefly touch on the look of the film. The story takes place in 1961 Greenwich Village and the main character wanders the streets and cafes of the area, familiar terrain to those of us who were a part of the folk scene in New York. My participation came much later, the late ’70s and early ’80s, but even today, the look and feel of the place has changed very little.

INSIDE-LLEWELYN-DAVISA scene from Inside Llewyn Davis, East 2nd Street

To my eye, the neighborhood is a richly colorful landscape, in parts beautiful, in other parts tawdry. McDougal and Bleecker Streets where the folk scene was centered remains a tourist district with mediocre restaurants and cheap gift shops. But there’s also Porto Rico coffee, Caffe Dante, and Mamoun’s falafel, places that have survived decades. Even Ben’s Pizza is still there in all its fluorescent and formica glory. Caffe Dante was where I used to hang out with Suzanne Vega and Jack Hardy plotting to shake up the world with our songs. It’s still great for atmosphere, but the coffee at Third Rail a couple of blocks away is on a different level. But I digress.

People have criticized Inside Llewyn Davis for portraying the folk scene as a ghostly shadow of its true self. Suzanne Vega called the movie “brown and sad.” The movie, indeed, is visually muted and dark. The Coen’s obviously filtered the color giving it that old color look–like an Instagram filter.

bob-dylan-freewheelin

But the past is only Instagrammed in our minds Or in prints and slides that have faded and color shifted over the years. When Dave Van Ronk–who the movie is sort of, but not really about–and Bob Dylan inhabited the neighborhood in the early ’60s the look of the place was undoubtedly as brightly hued as it is today.  My guess is that the Coens and their art director were inspired in part by the iconic photograph on the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan where he and Suzy Rotolo walked down the center of Jones Street on a snowy thinly lit day.

One can argue that the Coens wanted to remove their movie from the present and give it a dreamy long ago quality. But at this point, color filters are an overused device. Moody, slanting light streaming through windows, has also become a cliche supposedly evoking the past. Think of Spielberg’s Lincoln.

In my book Time and Space on the Lower East I tried to make the point that the past and present are  not mutually exclusive realities. They are part of a continuum of experience. They are both here now in vivid color. And the sky on a sunny day is blue.

e4thEast 4th Street 1980 — © Brian Rose/Ed Fausty

 

 

 

 

New York/Meatpacking District

princelumberNinth Avenue and West 15th Street (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

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:

Metamorphosis
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.

 

 

New York/Meatpacking District

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.

highlinecorner1985
10th Avenue and 17th Street, 1985 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

 

highlinecorner10th Avenue and 17th Street, 2013 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

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.

 

 

 

 

New York/Meatpacking District

printonstreet
On the street with a print from a 1985 image. (digital) — © Brian Rose

Everyone thinks I should do it, so I am working on a series of before/after images of the Meatpacking District. I originally photographed the area in 1985, also venturing uptown into west Chelsea. I had completed the Lower East Side project — which I later came back to — and I had finished photographing the Financial District — with an NEA grant. I had also begun photographing various NYC parks, and later that year I would begin my travels along the Iron Curtain border across Europe. But for a week or so in late winter of 1985 I wandered around the west side of Manhattan and documented the profoundly empty streets, like a stage set with the actors on break. Eventually, as we all know, the people would come.

mp033Gansevoort Street 1985 (4×5 negative) — © Brian Rose

mepa004Gansevoort Street 2013 (4×5 negative) — © Brian Rose

My experience with photographing New York, however, does not always follow the usual expectations about then and now. And with the Time and Space on the Lower East Side I deliberately wanted to challenge preconceived notions about what change actually looks like on the streets of the city.

New York, even the relatively glittering canyons of Manhattan, remains an often gritty place. The Meatpacking District has become a center of fashion and art, but like Soho before it, it continues to show its utilitarian roots, and is still dominated by late 19th and early 20th century architecture. The Gansevoort Market is still in business under the High Line housing a number of meat purveyors. In the view above of Gansevoort Street, one has to look twice to see the changes. Florent, the famous restaurant from ’80s is gone, and another restaurant has taken its place. The storefront of the small reddish building is now a boutique, but much of the block remains empty — as a Maserati rumbles along the cobblestones.

r&lGansevoort Street 2013 (4×5 negative) — © Brian Rose

As is often the case, “after” photographs can be less compelling than “befores.” The factors that led to the first image being made, are no longer present. These can be very subtle attributes, atmospheric, ineffable. So, part of my strategy in rephotographing the Meatpacking District is to look for new pictures, or variations on the originals.  The image directly above was made a few minutes after repeating the 1985 picture. It is, perhaps, a better description of the block with the Standard Hotel looming in the background.

mp009Washington Street 1985 (4×5 negative) — © Brian Rose

wash13Washington Street 2013 (digital) — © Brian Rose

mp025Washington Street 1985 (4×5 negative) — © Brian Rose

redmustangWashington Street 2013 (digital) — © Brian Rose

I am shooting the new photographs in 4×5 film using a similar camera and lens as in 1985, but then scanning the negatives and working up the images in Photoshop. Some of the images here were taken with my point-and-shoot, which I usually have with me while working with the big camera. As the film gets processed and the images completed, I will replace the digital snaps with the final 4×5 photos.

royalevealWashington Street 1985 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

mepa003Washington Street 2013 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

mp029Washington Street 1985 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

mepa016Washington Street 2013 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

In a previous post, I wrote about this being the former location of the Mineshaft, an infamous men’s sex club closed at the height of the AIDS crisis just a few months after my photograph was taken in 1985. Now, other sybaritic delights beckon.

mp003West 14th Street 1985 (4×5 negative) — © Brian Rose

mepa013West 14th Street 2013 (4×5 negative) — © Brian Rose

The images above are both 4x5s. I made several pictures with the 14th Street Apple store clearly visible on the right, but stepping a few feet forward better duplicated the original image.

mp011Hudson and 14th Street 1985 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

hudson14Hudson and 14th Street 2013 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

sellfromhereLittle West 12th Street and West Street 1985 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

centurywasteLittle West 12th Street and West Street 2013 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

pierarchPier 54 2013 (digital) — © Brian Rose

When I photographed the area in 1985, Pier 54 was an enclosed building as seen above. At present, only the steel structure of the facade remains. Occasionally the the otherwise empty pier is used for events. A small part of it is open to the public, and while I was there a couple of female skateboarders zoomed about while bicycles and joggers streamed along West Street.

Stay tuned for more pictures.

 

New York/Art School/Protest

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Step Down, Cooper Union, with student leader Victoria Sobel seated on floor
© Brian Rose

Art school, protest, and how I got to Cooper Union

Before transferring to Cooper Union in 1977 I was attending MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art). It was an expensive private art school — tuition is now just over $39,000 per year. I remember the college president telling the incoming class in a welcoming speech what percentage of students would complete their degrees and go on to find careers in art. It was a discouragingly low number.

Previously, I had studied urban planning and architecture at the University of Virginia, and art school was difficult step for me. But my interest in photography had blossomed, and I saw myself becoming a fine art photographer down the road. At first, the diverse course offerings for obtaining a BFA were daunting — I hadn’t done any drawing or painting before — but I became increasingly appreciative of the interconnectedness of the different media, and as I became more confident in my abilities, I began to evaluate the students around me as well as the quality of the professors I was studying with.

It was a mixed bag. Many of the students seemed more enamored of the art lifestyle than the actual practice of art. And many of the professors, especially the entrenched tenured ones, seemed to be coasting as artists. There seemed a lack of ambitiousness all round. A large faculty art show in the college gallery confirmed my suspicions. The work was weak and directionless, and to me, it was insulting to those of us paying a ton of money to attend the school. So, a friend of mine and I engaged in a little guerrilla action, creating a flyer printed in black courier type that panned the faculty show and suggested that our tuition money was going to waste. We taped these flyers up everywhere on the campus — on walls, doors, in classrooms, restrooms, inside drawers and underneath desks. It caused quite a sensation.

I should say here, however, that some of my motivation was simply unearned hubris, and that some of my professors were excellent. Furthermore, not knowing what things are like at MICA in these days, this should not be construed as criticism of the present school. However, I was right about needing a more challenging environment, and as a result, began looking into exchange programs with other art schools. Above all, I wanted to explore color photography. It was 1976, and color was just becoming a viable medium outside of advertising and magazines, and seeing that Joel Meyerowitz, one of the pioneers of color photography was teaching at Cooper Union, I knew where I should go. I did my one semester exchange, hung around unofficially for another semester auditing classes, using my student ID good for a year, and eventually got in as a transfer student. The dean of the art school later told me they accepted four out of 450 applicants for transfer that year.

It had to be Cooper. My parents had pretty much given up on me and my educational wanderings, and had cut off my funding. Cooper, of course, was tuition free, making it possible for me to continue my dream even without parental support. A full telling of the story would describe in detail how life-changing the experience of attending Cooper was. How terrific the teachers were. How brilliant the students were. How it was understood without questioning that we were artists, and would go on to be artists in the real world, in New York City just outside the door, our campus and hometown. And that’s what happened for me. I was able to immediately begin an extended photography project upon graduation, and have been pursuing my dream for 30 years since.

Art School, protest, and (the end?) of Cooper Union

On Saturday I attended both Show Up, the annual end-of-year student show at Cooper Union, and Step Down, the renegade art show on the 7th floor of the Foundation Building just outside the office of Jamshed Bharucha, the college president. As those of you following the news already know, the president’s office has been occupied by students demanding that he and the chairman of the board of trustees resign. The sit-in was precipitated by the decision to begin charging tuition to close a budget gap brought on by financial mismanagement and the lack of imagination and leadership required to fix the problem. This alteration of Cooper’s central mission of providing free education to all, regardless of economic status, threatens to destroy the egalitarian meritocracy that has made this place a unique treasure.

Step Down is an openly polemical show full of anger and biting humor. The work was provided by students, alumni, and friends. I donated my book Time and Space on the Lower East Side with a letter to the students who are leading the effort to save Cooper Union. The letter explains that Time and Space would not have happened without Cooper, and that it reconnects, for me, the gap between the present and that time when I first arrived in New York City. The student protest at Cooper goes far beyond my modest flyer of 1976, but both actions, on different levels, are about the quality and the value of education.

The book is displayed on a table, and you can read my letter below. (Click on the letter for an easier to read view)

stepdown02
Time and Space on the Lower East Side at Step Down — © Brian Rose

stepdown_letter
Letter accompanying my book at Step Down 

stepdown03
Step Down, Cooper Union — © Brian Rose

The art blog Hyperallergic wrote about Step Down:

…the exhibition Free Cooper Union put together, in only a week’s time, is probably one of the most significant and symbolic shows of the year. …this is an important exhibition, singular in capturing a raw provocation to authority. It’s an endeavor as worthwhile as it is rare.

And another article from ArtInfo.
More photos of Step Down here.

nab
The New Academic Building, Cooper Union — © Brian Rose

As I was leaving the 7th floor, I pointed my camera out the window and made the photograph above across Cooper Square. Normally, when a university constructs a major new building it gets named for a prominent donor who helped make it possible. At Cooper the NAB, or New Academic Building, is a grand architectural statement bereft of a benefactor’s name. A large part of Cooper Union’s financial woes are connected to that fact. It was a complex real estate deal so they say, but, in a nutshell, the trustees chose to borrow the entire cost of construction, and now find they are unable to make the mortgage payments. As a result, they have shifted the debt to the students and abandoned the mission as expressed by Peter Cooper that education should be as “free as water and air.”