First-time visitors of New York City witness its palpable energy and rich history. Millions of people packed onto subway cars, running into each other on the street, and living above and below each other give a novelty to everyday life. When artist Masao Gozu moved to New York, he fell in love with the city and those who lived in it. Gozu’s love for New York City is his art, including his recent exhibition “Windows to New York.”

Gozu captured the moments of New York residents through photography and strived to reconstruct the windows present in his photographs and the city itself. The combination of these reconstructed windows and photographs makes up his “Windows to New York” exhibit at Court Tree Collective in Industry City, Brooklyn.

Masao Gozu's handcrafted windows in the "Windows to New York" exhibit at Court Tree Collective
After gathering bricks, Gozu would cut them into thirds.

A group of artists and creatives founded Court Tree Collective in 2013. Although the collective began with a focus on the collaboration between chefs and artists, it now aims to showcase the work of contemporary artists. As New York reopened following the COVID-19 pandemic, co-founder Stephen Lipuma wanted to honor the rebirth with an exhibition that was quintessentially New York. It is for this reason that he reached out to Gozu.

“His whole medium is almost a window,” Lipuma said. “He started doing windows here, and then he did this windows series, and he wanted to take it to the next level, so started making windows with actual New York City rubble. Well, that’s the ultimate New York City show.”

Gozu had prior art experience as a former student of the Tokyo Institute of Art and Design but did not consider himself to be an artist. It was only once his friend sent in his application to the Brooklyn Museum Art School that he was able to get an art visa. Following his graduation in 1973, he used his art skills to create odes to New York City.

Masao Gozu Window.
Gozu took this photo on Mott Street in China Town at 2 p.m. on October 13. The year is unknown. Photo courtesy of Masao Gozu.
Masao Gozu Window.
Gozu took this photo at a Studio in the East Village at 3 p.m. on July 7, 1985. Photo courtesy of Masao Gozu.
Masao Gozu Window.
Gozu took this photo on Mulberry Street in Little Italy at 5 p.m. on August 21, 1978. Photo courtesy of Masao Gozu.

Gozu started his career by capturing the moments of strangers in New York. Shooting through windows throughout the city, Gozu captured elements of humanity in all walks of life. In 1984, Gozu wanted to create his own windows. Luckily for him, recently destroyed building sites offered cheap bricks and window making materials. With these salvaged bricks, pieces of wood, and glass, Gozu recreated the windows he had photographed for years.

After cutting the brick into thirds and carefully recreating the windows, he decided to use his creations in his photography. A series of installation photographs combined his windows with the aspects of the city he had fallen in love with. A color photograph captures a crashing wave as the Twin Towers are seen through the glass of one of his windows. Another includes his window reflecting the Twin Towers as it sits in a field of grass.

Masao Gozu's handcrafted windows in the "Windows to New York" exhibit at Court Tree Collective
Gozu now tries to capture the passage of time over his windows.

Throughout his career, Gozu has focused on time and space. As he is “getting old,” he now sees time falling rather than passing. He used to capture the passage of time through his photographs, but a series of videos in the exhibit show time falling over his windows throughout multiple seasons. The spring video focuses on Green Rain, a term translated from Japanese specifying spring rain.

Those who would like to see Gozu’s photos, windows, and videos, can do so until August 1, 2021. Gozu, who now lives upstate, occasionally visits Court Tree and his “Windows to New York” exhibit. One does not have to wonder why he still visits for the answer is clear. How can one stay away from New York for long?

Next, check out five NYC micro cities including Industry City!