Showing posts with label excellent photography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label excellent photography. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Brooke Smith revisits the neighborhood's 1980s hardcore scene with 'Sunday Matinee'

All photos by Brooke Smith/reposted with permission 

As an unhappy teen growing up in Rockland County in the 1980s, Brooke Smith found solace riding the 9A bus into the city. 

Once here, she'd take the A train to West Fourth Street. One day decided to keep walking on Eighth Street into the East Village and onto St. Mark's Place. 

Here, she found her home, a place where she felt as if she belonged. 
Today, Smith, now based in Los Angeles, has made a name for herself in films (Buffalo Bill's plucky would-be victim in the Oscar-winning "The Silence of the Lambs") and television ("Grey's Anatomy," "Ray Donovan"). 

While preparing to move about 12 years ago, Smith found a cardboard box full of the photos she took in the 1980s while part of the punk/hardcore scene on the Lower East Side. This discovery eventually led to a solo show at Primary Gallery

These photos are the subject of a new photo book, "Sunday Matinee," which features hundreds of photographs of the East Village in the mid-1980s and bands such as Bad Brains, Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Murphy's Law, Warzone and others. There are also recollections by band members and others involved in the scene.
Smith answered some questions in a recent email exchange with EVG... 

What initially compelled you to venture down to the city as a teen? 

I was very much an outsider in my hometown and high school. I was overweight and listened to WFMU radio a lot — punk and alternative music, which no one in my school was into. My mom worked in the city, and I started going in with her as a child. 

By the time I was 13 or 14, I felt comfortable enough to take the bus alone to the GW Bridge and then the subway downtown. Initially, I got off at West 4th street and walked around, but I soon felt compelled to go further and further east. I loved St Mark's Place and I met people in the East Village and eventually wound up at CBGB. Later, I got a job as the bag check girl at Trash & Vaudeville and then did the same thing at The Ritz.
Describe your mood change as you were leaving Rockland County and entering NYC on the bus, eventually making your way down to the East Village/LES.

I started meeting people and making friends... and you know how you just know who ‘your' people are when you meet them? I mean, like you recognize them? That’s how it felt, like coming home, genuinely.

The East Village felt like it belonged to us. It was a bit like the Wild West back then, and it felt like there was always a possibility in the air. We didn’t have cell phones then, so you had to get out and find people. 

You carried a Minolta with you. When did the interest in photography come about? 

Photography was one of the only classes I liked in high school, so I always had my camera with me. Plus, I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin, so even if I wanted to be a lead singer or a musician, I was too insecure. Having my camera meant I could hide behind it but still be right up in the center of the action. 

The people in the portraits on the streets and sidewalk look at ease in front of your camera. Were you known in the hardcore community as someone always taking photos? Did it take a while for you to build up the confidence to approach people? 

It did take a little time. I only took portraits of my friends. Back then, when people used to drive by CBGB or Tompkins Square Park and try to take photos of us punks, we would always make them pay us! I think I was known as someone who was always taking pics, along with Amy Keim and BJ Papas, and a few other women in the scene.
Looking back at the book and all the images, what is an enduring memory of this period in your life? 

I loved it all. And all those people in the photos, so many of whom are gone. I remember late nights when we would all hang out with the homeless in Tompkins Square and have bonfires in those mesh garbage cans and share our stories with each other. It was a real neighborhood, and I can remember so many of the characters… everyone from Ray — who’s still there at 90, serving the best shakes and egg creams in NYC — to that guy who would always cover his face with a newspaper if you tried to make eye contact. 

I remember exactly when I felt it was time to move on from the scene. I was at the pizza place on St Mark's and Avenue A with these new kids I'd just met. I explained to them that my little brother had died in a surfing accident a week before, and I just remember feeling, at that very moment, that my time there was done. It was time for me to grow up.
What were some ways this scene helped you forge your identity? 

There was no separation between audience and performer. It was our scene, and we were doing it for ourselves, not to get rich or famous. So I think that helped me. I learned to trust my instincts as an artist, and to stay true to myself and to always be authentic. 

What do you hope that people take away from "Sunday Matinee"? 

It’s a love letter to that time and place and especially those people. I hope people get the message to be themselves. Don’t try to fit in. If you can find a group of people, or even just one other person who shares your interests, you can create whatever you want.
This Saturday, Smith will be signing copies of the book from 5-7 p.m. at Generation Records, 210 Thompson St. in Greenwich Village. There's an after-party at 9 p.m. at 96 Tears, 110 Avenue A at Seventh Street (the former Tompkins Square Bar). Find out more about the book here.

Friday, February 18, 2022

The 1980s East Village as seen through the lens of photographer Peter Bennett

Last June, we reported on the passing of Arthur Enrique Guerra, the founder of Guerra Paint & Pigment on 13th Street. The post included a photo of Guerra's mural on St. Mark's Place of John Spacely, aka Gringo, from 1983. Peter Bennett took that iconic photo of the Gingo mural. 

Bennett, a native New Yorker who now resides in Los Angeles, recently shared more photos from the era. He grew up in Greenwich Village and lived in the East Village from 1979 to 1988. (You can read more about him here.) He gave us permission to post these EV street scenes from the 1980s. (Top photo is outside the former Love Saves the Day on the NW corner of Second Avenue and Seventh Street.

Here are a few more shots from his archives (click on the image to go big)  ...  

St. Mark's Place...
Second Avenue at Seventh Street...
Second Avenue at St. Mark's Place (NW corner) ...
Second Avenue at St. Mark's Place (SW corner) ...
Seventh Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue...
Fifth Street at Avenue D ...
Fifth Street near Avenue C...
There are some more photos here

If you liked these, perhaps we can have an encore one of these days. Thanks to Peter for sharing!

Monday, February 7, 2022

Monday's parting shots

Thanks to Daniel Efram for these shots from the steamy SE corner of Third Avenue and 13th Street...

Friday, November 26, 2021

'Gimme Five Minutes' with East Village photographer Daniel Root

East Village-based photographer Daniel Root (we've featured his work here and here) is the subject of a new exhibit that opens today at LaMama Gallery on Great Jones.

Here's more via the EVG inbox:

"Gimme Five Minutes: Daniel Root's Production Stills (1984-2005)" includes more than 300 prints of Root's photographs, featuring an impressive cast of pop culture icons illuminating the downtown ethos. The images impress that production stills and quick portraits are in their own right a separate and unique art form. In addition, the exhibition will be supported by archival material from the artist's collection, including professional artifacts, ephemera, CRT video installation, and live performances.

Some of the downtown personalities in the photos include Lydia Lunch, Ann Magnuson, Joey Arias, Tina Weymouth and Chris Franz. Other photos on display include Frank Zappa, Cher, Mary J. Blige, Jimmy Cliff and Robert Smith.

The opening is tonight at 6 and features live performances by Helixx C. Armageddon, Silver Relics and Augusto Machado

The exhibit is up through Dec. 12 at La MaMa Galleria, 47 Great Jones St. between the Bowery and Lafayette. Gallery hours: Thursday-Sunday 1-6 p.m. Find more details here

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Check out these NYC taxi views from 1977-1987 along East Houston Street

In case you haven't been over on East Houston at Second Avenue in the past week ... there's a new exhibit up along First Street Green featuring the work of photographer Joseph Rodriguez.

He drove a cab in NYC from 1977 to 1985 ... and later published a book of his work: "Taxi: Journey Through my Windows 1977–1987." 

Some of those photos, including scenes from the East Village, are featured along this corridor ...
The work, part of the Photoville Festival, will be up here until Dec. 1.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Take part in this Jacob Riis Art Walk today

Local artists Lee Jiménez and Joalis Silva are giving a tour this afternoon of their artwork currently on display outside the Jacob Riis Houses...
The art walk starts at 1 p.m. in the roundabout on 10th Street between Avenue D and the FDR (Jiménez's photos taken during 2020 are hanging in this area). 

If you can't make it today, then take the time on another day (it should be up all summer) to check out their work inspired by the Riis community.
Photo of Joalis Silva via Instagram. The top pic in the post is part of the Lee Jiménez display.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Zooming in on the iconic work of East Village-based photographer Roberta Bayley

East Village-based photographer Roberta Bayley is the guest tomorrow night (March 17!) for the Coney Island Museum's Ask The Experts on Zoom series.

The evening includes a screening of the 33-minute documentary "Roberta Bayley: She Just Takes Pictures," which highlights her iconic punk-era photography from 1975 to 1986 (like the shot of Debbie Harry above!) ... and a Q&A session with Bayley and Beth Lasch, the film's director. 

Tickets are $5 and support the Museum and its arts programming. The session starts at 7 p.m. Find viewing details here

Friday, March 12, 2021

Friday's parting shot

A moment on Rivington Street today... thanks to Colin Clark for permission to repost this photo... (find more of his work on Instagram).

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Appreciating the pinhole photography of late East Village resident Veronica Saddler

Veronica Saddler, who taught pinhole photography at Cooper Union, died in February 2020.

Thankfully, a friend rescued some of Saddler's photographs and negatives from her Fourth Street apartment, and a selection of the work is now featured at the Wilmer Jennings Gallery, 219 E. Second St. between Avenue B and Avenue C. 

Here's more about her photography from a New York Times feature in 1999: 
For most New Yorkers, Manhattan with empty streets is only a beautiful dream. But Veronica Saddler, a pinhole photographer, can clear out the city with her cameras. The two faded cardboard boxes scribbled over with exposure times could not look more unassuming, yet they have produced dozens of majestic photographs. 

For Ms. Saddler, who is smitten with Manhattan's architecture, pinhole is the ideal medium. The city is transformed into a place where buildings, not people, are the focus, and for anyone used to crammed city streets, the vast stretches of empty pavement in these photos are almost as compelling as the buildings themselves. The pinhole's infinite depth of field and wide-angle capacity have a distorting quality that causes some buildings to appear to stretch out and envelop an entire block, an effect Ms. Saddler enhances by not shooting her subjects straight on.

The New York in her photos is serene and slightly haunted: Delmonico's steakhouse is a stony battleship sailing down a deserted Beaver Street; Jefferson Market Library looks more than ever like a misplaced fairy castle, its tower oddly warped like a melting ice cream cone on an abandoned stretch of the Avenue of the Americas. An afternoon shot of Trinity Church looks as if it was taken at the dead hour of 5 a.m. 
Her work will be on display until April 3. Gallery hours: Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Said an EVG reader who alerted us to the show: "The exhibition is beautifully installed. It would be sad if this talented African American woman's passing went unnoticed." 

Here's a look at some of her work on display courtesy of EVG contributor Stacie Joy...

Friday, April 3, 2020

The East Village photography of Martin Mahoney

Earlier this year, East Village-based photographer Martin Mahoney invited me to his upcoming group show at Westbeth Gallery, which was to take place March 19 to April 19.

Given the COVID-19 crisis, Westbeth cancelled the show.

Mahoney had planned to show a selection of his photographs. I asked him if I could share some of his work here (find more at his Instagram account) ...

Mahoney moved to the East Village in 1985 from Wexford Town in Ireland.

"While I’ve always had an interest in photography, I’ve lost many pictures of the old neighborhood and it’s characters and regret not taking more of the rapidly disappearing buildings and people who are being replaced with soulless glass boxes," he told me. "So I decided about two years ago to try to capture the essence of what is left of the old neighborhood and preserve it as best I can before it’s lost forever."

... and here's a selection of his black-and-white shots ....

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Thursday's parting shot

Today's shot comes courtesy of East Village-based photographer Josh Charow, who took this down on Rivington Street...

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

'David Vega’s East Village'

An EVG reader just shared this with me... The Solas Studio, 117 E. 24th St. (2nd floor) between Lexington and Park, is presenting a 1980s photo exhibit titled "David Vega’s East Village."

The opening is tomorrow (Feb. 13) night from 6-8. Otherwise, the exhibit is open by appointment from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays until March 13.

The exhibit coincides with a new book of his photography, "Look Back East Village 1984-1987."

And a few of his 1980s photos ...

Saturday, January 25, 2020

This East Village view greets visitors to new exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York

"Collecting New York's Stories: Stuyvesant to Sid Vicious" opened this past week at the Museum of the City of New York.

Per the museum, the exhibit "features highlights drawn from the hundreds of additions to the Museum’s permanent collection over the past three years, running the gamut from the colonial era to the recent past. A gallery of historic and contemporary photographs, currently open, showcases works by both well-known and emerging artists..."

As Lindsay Turley, vice president of collections at the museum, told Gothamist: the exhibit gives people the opportunity to see how New Yorkers have interacted with a city changing "physically, culturally, economically, and aesthetically over more than the past century."

East Village-based photographer Sally Davies has three shots on display. However, her photo titled "Rearview" is the image that greets visitors outside the museum on Fifth Avenue and at the start of the exhibit...

"I had no idea that they were going to use my image to represent the whole show," Davies said via email. "I was absolutely gobsmacked at that 12-foot reproduction that greets you as you walk in... lucky me."

The photo, from 2018, is officially titled "Rearview, From My Apartment on East 5th Street."

The show remains up until Dec. 31. The museum is at 1220 Fifth Ave. at 103rd Street. It's open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.