Gowanus_Wild_Egret_untappedcities_annabrownImage by Miska Draskoczy

Gowanus is a neighborhood of inconsistencies: its booming real estate market makes it the next hot destination in Brooklyn, while its polluted canal could give a person ecoli, dysentery, and cancer. Upscale restaurants and art galleries are popping up on its streets, yet two blocks away one finds garbage piled up against corrugated tin walls, demarcating a warehouse or a car yard, or maybe the next big housing development.

Miska Draskoczy revels in the area’s contradictions in his photography series “Gowanus Wild.” His photos, taken over the course of two years, try to find the beauty in what many consider to be an industrial wasteland. Draskoczy writes:

“The Gowanus Canal is one of the most polluted waterways in the country and the neighborhood has seen continuous industrial use since the 19th century. My vision is to capture a marriage of opposites; the organic in the industrial, green within blacks and grays, stillness and peace in urban chaos.”

His work above represents this idea. The serene white bird, known as an egret, sits atop a lush green tree. This scene could have come right out of a National Geographic magazine feature on the Everglades, but the Lowe’s sign gives it away, as do the lights of a passing train over the Smith/9th Street stop.

Draskoczy’s work also takes on a tone of nostalgia for the Gowanus before its recent development boom. The photo above is of the Coignet Stone Building, New York City’s first concrete structure built in 1872. This building, now a New York City landmark, was originally constructed to show off a type of French concrete called Coignet Stone and was part of the New York and Long Island Stone Company. This picture is from 2012; today, the building is covered in black scaffolding and surrounded by a Whole Foods complex which opened in December 2013. The building’s current state is shown below.

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Untapped Cities attended a tour given by Draskoczy of the sites in his photos. The tour was given in conjunction with an exhibition of his work at the Ground Floor Gallery in Gowanus.


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Check out the rest of Draskoczy’s work on his website.

Any other art events that you would recommend? Contact Anna Brown at @brooklynbonanza