Category Archives: Lower East Side

New York/Lower East Side

Time and Space on the Lower East Side, book and slipcover — © Brian Rose

I received a copy of Time and Space from the printer a few days ago and have been taking it around to stores in lower Manhattan. The response has been good. St. Mark’s Bookshop, the Strand, Clic, and the New Museum shop will all carry the book. I am working on others.

I have already posted information about the book presentation at the Duo Theater on April 2, but there is an important update. Please contact the sponsoring organization to confirm your attendance. The theater holds only about 90 people. There will be a limited number of books available for sale that evening. The full shipment will arrive from the printer in mid-April. Go here for more information about the book.

Time and Space on the Lower East Side
A Book Presentation and Slide Talk

Sponsored by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and Fourth Arts Block

Monday, April 2
7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Duo Theater, 62 East 4th Street
(between 2nd Avenue & Bowery)
Free; reservations required
RSVP to rsvp@gvshp.org or (212) 475-9585 ext. 35

New York/Lower East Side

East 3rd Street — © Brian Rose

Progress update for Time and Space on the Lower East Side. The book is finished except for some back and forth concerning the coating on the cover. It will be a so-called image wrap cover rather than a dust jacket. I have one completed copy of the book, and I am beginning to show it  around.

Time and Space will be presented to the public on April 2, and I will be doing a slide talk, basically stepping through the pages of the book. Hopefully, I will have a full shipment of books by then, but if not, I will at least have 10 or 20 copies available at the event. Here is the basic information:

Time and Space on the Lower East Side
A Presentation by Brian Rose

Monday, April 2
7-8:30 PM
Duo Theater, 62 East 4th Street (between 2nd Avenue & the Bowery)
Free; reservations required
RSVP to rsvp@gvshp.org or (212) 475-9585 ext. 35  

Co-sponsored by Fourth Arts Block and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation 

In 1980, Brian Rose, in collaboration with Ed Fausty, photographed the Lower East Side with a 4×5 view camera.  It was the neighborhood’s darkest, but most creative moment. While buildings crumbled and burned, artists and musicians came to explore and express the edgy quality of the place. After the wrenching events of 9/11, Rose was drawn back to New York as a subject for his camera and eventually decided to return to where he had begun–the Lower East Side.  From the outset it was clear that this would not be a simple before/after take on the place. While keeping an eye on the 1980 photographs, Rose sought to rediscover the place with fresh eyes, with the perspective of time, change, and history. The result, Time and Space on the Lower East Side, which will be available for sale and signing, is a set of photographs that looks backward and forward, that posits the idea that places are not simply “then and now,” but exist in a continuum of decay and rebirth.

New York/Lower East Side

Inspiration, by Solon Borglum, St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery
© Brian Rose

I’m awaiting a finished bound book of Time and Space on the Lower East Side for final approval. After that, I should have a pretty good idea when to expect delivery of books. In the meantime, I am pleased to announce that I will be doing a slide talk based on Time and Space on April 2 at the Duo Multicultural Arts Center on East 4th Street. I have wanted to do an event on that block of 4th Street, which is where the cover photograph was made, and where so much of my early New York history took place. Hopefully, I will have books for sale that evening. I’ll have more details in the near future. I am still working on a location for a book launch party. Stay tuned.

Also, I will again be teaching a class in ICPs continuing education program — Photographing New York: The Lower East Side. We will be make photographs of the neighborhood and then put them together as a book using Blurb, the online book creation and publishing platform. Go here to find out more and to register.

 

New York/Lower East Side

Some updates on Time and Space on the Lower East Side. We are looking at a mid- to late March release of the book depending on how long it takes for the shipment from the printer in Germany to arrive by sea freight and to clear customs. I expect to have a small number of books sent to me before that, which I can then start using for promotional purposes. I am working on venues for a slide talk and  book launch party, probably separate dates in March. I will post confirmed dates as soon as I have them.

The Blurb version of Time and Space will only exist for a couple more days. Once it’s down, it’s gone forever. So, if you’ve been thinking of purchasing one of these, this is your last chance. Up till now, I’ve made the entire book browsable using Blurb’s preview feature. But that will go, too. I may create a web presentation of the overall project as a resource, but the book will only be viewable as a 12 page sample.

Time and Space is now available for pre-orders  here, or clock on the image above.

 

New York/Lower East Side

Yesterday I saw the first set of proofs from the printer for my upcoming book Time and Space on the Lower East Side–they look amazing. The color is spot on with no loss of vibrancy. Having looked at lots of photo books and done my own color prints for some 30 years, I have to say I’ve rarely seen printing this good.

My publisher Bill Diodato and I went over each image individually and picked out about 20 for minor adjustments in density (light/dark). We’ll look at one more set of proofs and then go to the final printing.

The images above show the finished cover design with yellow and magenta accenting added on the front, back, and spine. The limited edition slipcovers will have the same magenta and yellow.

We also received a blank dummy from the printer to get a feel for the size, materials and workmanship. The sewn binding was beautifully done and the pages lie very flat. Holding the dummy also confirmed my sense that 9×12 inches is a good size for these images. It is spacious enough to provide plenty of detail, but not too large for comfortably holding in one’s lap.

At this point we are on schedule for an early March arrival of the books, but I may not have a hard date until we approve the second round of proofs. I should have more updates soon. Stay tuned!

New York/Lower East Side

I just completed teaching a class at ICP (International Center of Photography) called Photographing New York: The Lower East Side. It was a class based on photographing the neighborhood and then assembling a book of our work.

I knew this would be a challenging class in that we were doing everything–shooting, editing, selecting, and designing–all in a ten week timeframe. The students were of diverse backgrounds from all over the world, and had varying degrees of experience, from near beginners to some whose work was nuanced and sophisticated. But the idea was to present each at his or her best and to create a coherent, “real book” that we would all be proud of.

My teaching assistant Ed Cheng and I both participated in the book–Ed contributed images of Eldridge Street where he had grown up, and I took my view camera out on the Bowery adding to an ongoing collection of pictures of the rapidly gentrifying former skid row. Although I have no doubt that a class based entirely on photographing the Lower East Side with a critique at the end would result in good images, the knowledge that our photographs would all go into a publicly accessible book, in my opinion, elevated the conversation.

The students did a great job, many of them with little experience in making photos within tightly focused thematic or conceptual parameters, as well as working against a serious deadline. I think the results seen in the book speak for themselves.

I have been asked to teach the class again in the spring semester. So, anyone interested, keep an eye on the ICP class catalogue for further information (ICP School). I’ll post something here as well.

New York/Time and Space


Final cover design of Time and Space on the Lower East Side

Time and Space on the Lower East Side is now complete and on its way to the printer in Germany. My publisher tried to get a printer in New York, but none offered the price/quality proportion desired. It’s a sad testimony to American competitiveness that we have to go abroad for something that is ultimately done on widely available machines operated by  a small group of skilled technicians. Somewhat cheaper prices were available from Asia, but dealing with the distance and communication difficulties did not seem worth the trouble.

The design of the book is loosely based on the prototype I did with Blurb–the same image using the shadowed area for type. But Warren Mason of Measure Design made it much more elegant. We dropped the magenta type in favor of a yellow accented “Lower East Side.” However, the magenta has reappeared with a vengeance on the slipcover of the limited edition book. The message being this is not your father’s or grandfather’s Lower East Side in somber black and white.


Slipcase for the limited edition of Time and Space on the Lower East Side

The slipcase will be cloth covered with the type stamped into the material. The hardcover book, which will contain an 8×10 print will slide into the slipcase. These will be numbered and signed 1-100. I am hoping to make these available for sale on the website photo-eye and a few selected bookshops. The starting price will be $250. Due to the overall cost of production, the trade edition will be priced somewhat higher than $50–so those of you who donated to Kickstarter will be getting a nice discount.

I expect to get a production schedule soon and can then project a likely date for release of the book–both the regular trade edition and limited edition. I am guessing that I will have a small number of books sent by air in early January, and the rest of the press run will arrive  in late February shipped by boat. Hopefully, I will be looking at, and approving, proofs this month. As soon as I have the production schedule together, I will begin planning for the a book launch and other PR related activities.

Stay tuned for periodic updates.

New York/Houston Street


Houston and Bowery with Keith Haring  re-creation, 2008 — © Brian Rose

A year ago I discovered the origins of the Houston/Bowery wall, a slab of concrete that hosts a regularly changing display of graffiti and street art in various media. The wall always seemed odd to me because it was free standing and stood a couple of feet away from the party wall of the building behind it. Where did it come from?


Ray Salyer in On the Bowery, handball court behind

The answer came on a visit to Film Forum when I saw the great quasi-documentary film On the Bowery made in 1957 by Lionel Rogosin. In one of the scenes, Ray Salyer, the main character waits with a group of Bowery men looking to be picked up for day labor. Behind him a game of handball is being played against a detached wall, unmistakably the same wall that survives today, except that it is now encased in a more expansive and user-friendly surface. But underneath, the handball court wall remains.


Opening scene from Martin Scorcese’s Who’s That Knocking at My Door, 1967

Last week while putting together a slide show of Lower East Side images for a class I am teaching, I came across a video of the opening scene of Martin Scorcese’s first feature film Who’s That Knocking at My Door made in 1967. It’s a street brawl–a choreographed violent  dance–played out on the corner of Houston and Bowery in front of, you guessed it, the former handball wall, now graffiti wall.


Houston and Bowery, mural by Faile, 2011 — © Brian Rose

As you  can see in the film and in the photograph above, Houston Street was widened after 1957 and the distance from the street to the wall was reduced. So, it turns out this lowly urban artifact has quite a distinguished pedigree, not only as the canvas for the current series of murals, but as an architectural extra in two classics of American cinema.

New York/The Bowery


E
ast Broadway/Catherine Street/The Bowery — © Brian Rose

As mentioned in an earlier post, I am presently photographing the Bowery, the historic street associated with New York low life from its early days as an entertainment district to its latter days as world famous skid row. The street runs only about a mile, so my intention is to photograph it in some detail. Since my studio is located just off the Bowery along the northern stretch of the street, it’s easy for me to start taking pictures and run out of film before I get very far. So, this morning I kept the camera backpack on my shoulders until I got down to Chinatown just below the Manhattan Bridge. I did a number of photographs with the 4×5 camera–these are from my pocket camera. It was a brilliantly clear morning, a little windy, but manageable.


Chatham Square and The Bowery — © Brian Rose

Looking south at Chatham Square one can see 8 Spruce Street, the Frank Gehry tower with its wavy steel curtain wall rising above the squat brick building housing NYPD headquarters. The glass building at left is typical of the new construction going up all along the Bowery. And a recent decision to de-landmark a nearby early 19th century house is likely to increase the pressure on other properties. The Bowery has always been a hodgepodge of architectural styles built at various different times, so freezing it in the present is not necessarily appropriate or practical. But if you look at the Bowery, many of the structures are relatively small–some of them built as townhouses–but most are now used for commercial purposes. The temptation to knock them down and replace them with new hotels and other multi-use buildings is ever mounting. The way things are going, much of the Bowery’s historic character will be lost.


The Bowery and Pell Street — © Brian Rose

Above is an example of  a former townhouse now used as a bank office. Anything with a pitched roof, of which there are probably a dozen on the Bowery, was built in the first part of the 19th century. A few are hiding behind false fronts, and other have had their heads lopped off. The 19th century house between 5th and 6th Streets next to the Cooper Square Hotel, which I have photographed, was torn down a few months ago.


East Broadway — © Brian Rose

After using up my film, I made a quick visit to the post office on East Broadway and took the photograph above looking through the front window to the street.

New York/The Bowery


The Bowery and Delancey Street — © Brian Rose (graffiti by Kenny Scharf)

The process of making photographs varies with different photographers. There are some who work within conceptual frameworks that require a great deal of calculation ahead of time. Others, like me, tend to think in projects that take in long time lines, or that slowly, image by image, explore the relationship between self and the outside world. However, in any case, there is usually an element of discovery–a path found–a thread identified and then pulled–a momentary recognition of something essential. Often, these discoveries are fleeting, provisional, trivial. Not exactly mind bending paradigm shifting stuff.

So, I pick up the paper this morning, as usual, and flip through the arts section, and land upon a review of a photography show–a rarity these days in the New York Times. It’s about the latest New Photography exhibit at MoMA. I was already aware of it mostly because I knew that Doug Rickard’s Google Streetview images are in the show. Rickard’s work is fascinating in that the images made are essentially available to all. He simply reframes the 360 degree  anonymous pans of the world glimpsed from Google’s ceaselessly cruising eye.


New York City, photo by Doug Rickard (via Google Streetview)

On the one hand, Rickard uses the images as social commentary, focusing primarily on the most neglected and down and out areas of the United States. There’s nothing new about photographing such areas. But on the other hand there is something different about seeing these places through a robotic lens–literally drive-by photography–seen voyeuristically as if through a roving security camera. Rickard has us gaze at the underbelly of society, at poor people, scary looking people, caught unaware by the camera, captured in the barrel distorted, light flared reality of Google–and we all become Big Brother in the process. Guiltily, I cannot stop looking at these disturbing images.

This is work that deserves a good deal of critical thought, and even soul searching. But as I begin to read Ken Johnson’s review of New Photography 2011 I am slammed dead in my tracks by this:

In the 1980s photography mutated into a monster that threatened to swallow fine art altogether. In the hands of artists like Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, Gregory Crewdson, Andreas Gursky and legions of copycats, photography parsed the day’s most urgent questions about representation, propaganda, truth and reality. But in the ensuing decades, the answers became increasingly routine, and today the beast that art photography was finds itself tired and toothless.

If you are searching for signs of rejuvenation in “New Photography 2011,” an exhibition of six artists at the Museum of Modern Art, you will look in vain. 

With that dispiriting introduction, Johnson then goes on to dutifully praise the work in the show including Doug Rickard’s “species of meta photography.” But why bother make the effort if none of the work offers signs of rejuvenation? Why saddle these photographers with this unfair and miserable burden? What a drag for Johnson to have to write this article. What a drag for us to have to read it. And now, excuse me while I resume my pointless search for relevance outside–or inside–I don’t know which–the tired and toothless art photography monster.

 

New York/Lower East Side


Madison Street under the Manhattan Bridge — © Brian Rose

A visually quiet moment in Chinatown–but the bridge above is never silent. Cars and trucks sound a constant din, and every few minutes a subway train clatters by, the squeal of steel wheels.