475 Kent Avenue is an artist compound, filled with photographers, artists and filmmakers. These loft apartments have epic views of Manhattan and Brooklyn, but in my opinion the charm really comes from the gritty graffitied interior and the creativity buzzing within. A rickety wooden elevator transports you through the 10 floors of the building and then another set of stairs gets you to the roof. This past weekend, David Alan Harvey opened up his home again to showcase the work of his students and special guest, photographer Bruce Davidson.
Although more famous for his documentation of the Civil Rights Movement and Brooklyn gangs, Davidson showed us some of his favorite portraits, including those of Marilyn Monroe! Humble and self-effacing, he quickly passed over some of his more recognizable work in lieu of telling stories about getting fired from National Geographic, being captivated by a tree instead of JFK and Jackie, and how he always carried cheese sandwiches for the homeless he photographed in Central Park. The loft was packed and a breeze wafted into the room, quivering the projector screen and bringing the images to life. David Alan Harvey introduced Davidson as a “photographer’s photographer,” and I can pretty safely say that everyone in the room was floored by his photography. Words would never do the images justice, so I suggest you purchase Davidson’s retrospective book Outside/Inside for a better preview.
Afterwards, we headed up to the roof to take in the views. At this event two years ago, the SAVE DOMINO signs were still on the old sugar factory, but I guess the building was “saved”/turned into condos. The concentration of creative minds was palpable: people stopped me wanting to see my pictures and talk about camera equipment, a photographer in the building lamented about a mural on the roof that had been recently painted over, a filmmaker talked about how long he had been living in this artist compound. Quoting from a fellow attendee who wrote of the event on Burn Magazine’s blog, “Being on that roof with such good company is one of the greatest possible New York experiences.There’s always a fantastic view of the Manhattan skyline and Williamsburg bridge…And there was a full moon as well. What’s not to love?”
Bruce Davidson and David Alan Harvey are both Magnum agency photographers. David now runs Burn Magazine, showcasing up-and-coming photographers. The event this past weekend was the culmination of a two-week workshop he runs called “At Home with David Alan Harvey.” Also happening this weekend was the busted Danger warehouse party in Brooklyn.
All photographs by Michelle Young.