Last week, a new gallery, Happy Lucky No. 1 opened on Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights – on a stretch becoming increasingly peppered with new coffee shops, bars and businesses. The new space, designed by Honest Buildings, is both gallery and event space, with a green wall and green roof. The first exhibit, Topography is Fate, with images by New York City-based photographer Matthew Arnold, is even more timely now given the recent current events. Arnold’s beautiful large-format photographs belie a darker history – 70 years ago this North African landscape was the scene of carnage during World War II.
Jill Freedman is famous for photographing the freaks, the lost, and the lonely of New York City – and an exhibition of her vintage prints shows just how keen her eye for tragedy is. Freedman, now 75, moved to Greenwich Village in 1964 and since then has scrutinized the city’s squalor and cheeky humor.
Her Surf ‘n’ Turf shot of a bum sleeping next to an artist’s street stall in the 70s says much about the contradictions of New York and its shocking juxtaposition of extreme poverty and the world of the bourgeois. She can be compared to legendary photographer Weegee, with whom she shares the same taste for those on margins, circus artists, and people of the night, as well as the same love for all classes of New Yorkers.
Freedman, who is originally from Pittsburgh, said: “Coming to New York is always a way of getting away from your own life.” She started her career as a singer in nightclubs, and picked up a camera on a whim. She never studied photography formally, but took as mentors W. Eugene Smith, Andre Kertesz, Dorothea Lange and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Her new exhibition at Steven Kasher Gallery, Jill Freedman: Long Stories Short, features over 50 of her black and white vintage prints from the late 1960s to the early 1990s.
It includes work from her famous projects on the city’s cops, firemen, protestors, circus workers, and dogs, as well as unpublished photographs.
Freedman – who has published seven books and is currently working on an eighth, tentatively titled Madhattan – told The New York Times she photographs “the theater of the streets…the weirder, the better”.
But it seems she feels the city she loves is losing its edge, adding: “I don’t feel it’s New York any more because they destroyed the neighborhoods. New York was all about the neighborhoods. Now everything’s just real estate. “The suburbanites won. Instead of having to commute, they brought the suburbs in with them.”
Photograph by Miron Zownir from NYC RIP
Released in September, the book NYC RIP features 156 photographs by Miron Zownir of New York City in the gritty 1980s, focusing a large part on the sex workers along the West Side “Sex Piers” and former nudist area, gay parties before the AIDS crisis, the desperation along the Bowery, and subcultures that were once a fixture on city streets. Numerous NSFW images are published on Dazed Digital (h/t Vanishing NY) and show what is described as his “uncompromising” eye – images that will certainly make those only familiar with the more sanitized New York flinch. While the focus is on human subjects, the environment is key to the photographs which explains why Zownir has been compared to Weegee.
The majesty of churches often derives from their architectural beauty and grandeur. And while we can tilt our heads upward and gaze at the expanses, it is nearly impossible to capture that majesty through a lens. Photographer Richard Silver has, however, with his new series of vertical panoramas entitled “Vertical Churches.”
The 2010s have been the era of the teenage urban explorer, all motivated by many different reasons. Some for sheer brashness, some for Instagram fame, some for architectural preservationist reasons. It is also a response, we believe, to the shrinking numbers of places in New York City to explore without rules and regulations. With social media, we have seen more entrants into the urban explorer community, the expected clash between old school and new school, and a faster rise in awareness for the savviest of urban explorers.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is photographer Dave Frieder, also known as “The Bridge Man.” Over the last 22 years, he has been patiently documenting New York City’s bridges using film, predominantly from foot tingling perspectives up top. In 2013, we accompanied him to his favorite bridge, the George Washington Bridge, where he recounted the long quest to get his work known.
The photography exhibit Only One at a pop-up gallery at 345 Broom Street opens September 4th, exhibiting the work of Michael Tischler, with part of the proceeds going to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. If you’re a fan of HDR (the real technique, not the iPhone filter), on display are twenty large-scale photographs of iconic New York City scenes. Each photo is actually a compilation of three photos of the same scene at different shutter speeds, creating a bright, a medium, and a dark photo that are combined to form a layered, and detailed image. Each are printed on archival aluminum, and there is only one print of each sold–hence the exhibition title Only One.