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

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

A moment on 8th Street in 1983

The 1980s East Village photography of Peter Bennett is currently on display at the Tompkins Square Library branch.

Bennett, a native New Yorker now residing in Los Angeles, grew up in Greenwich Village and lived in the East Village from 1979 to 1988. 

The above photo (not one featured at the library) shows the south side of Eighth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C from 1983. (You can see St. Brigid's on the corner.)

Bennett told us this about the photo:
I used to hang out on that block in the 1970s. [He finished high school at Seward Park in 1972.] I had two friends who lived there, and I would visit them. It was a rough, rough block back then. I was mugged on at least one occasion. Tompkins Square Park was completely off-limits after dark; I remember walking around it coming back from my friends and hearing gut-wrenching screams coming from the park somewhere. It's come a long way. 
Tomorrow (Thursday) evening, as part of Lower East Side History Month, Bennett will be one of the guest speakers in a session titled "The East Village in Music, Art, and Words." He'll be joined by Linus Coraggio, MaryAnn Fahey and Andrea Wilson. Unfortunately, the session is full, and the registration is closed.

However, Bennett's photos will be up for the next few months at the library, 331 E. 10th St. between Avenue A and Avenue B.

Follow Bennett on Instagram here.

Previously on EV Grieve:

Thursday, April 11, 2024

East Village native Anna Colombia on pursuing photography and growing up in the neighborhood

Anna Colombia is an interdisciplinary artist born and raised in the East Village, where she still lives. 

Her most recent publication is "Make Shift Youth," a zine featuring 24 Riso-printed images and letterpress-printed text from her days in the neighborhood's punk scene.

Here, she discusses discovering photography, growing up in the East Village and finding inspiration today.
What sparked your initial interest in photography in high school? 

My high school experience was horrible, so I kinda stopped going after a certain point. My mom really wanted me to graduate and to enjoy learning, so she started trying to get me to take high school art classes at SVA. One of the first ones I took was an introduction to photography. I was hooked instantly by the magic of it all and learning how to use the darkroom.

Obviously, being in high school, I didn’t really know what to photograph, so I started by taking pictures of a lot of the graffiti around the neighborhood, and then naturally my friends and the punk shows I was going to. 

Were you known in the punk community as someone who always took photos? What was your initial comfort level with photographing people? 

 I always had a camera with me, but I don’t think I was ever seen as that person always taking pictures. My style of documentation has always been somewhat on the sly, with friends saying they never really knew I had taken certain pictures because it was always so natural.

There was another girl who sometimes hung out and who was always taking photos. She was the one everyone thought of as the photographer. Her collection has got to be amazing, but it always bothered me that she didn’t respect people’s wishes not to be photographed. I have always been very comfortable photographing people, because I have always only photographed the people in my life. 

While I love catching moments of my life through those around me, I also respect when people do not want to be photographed. 

Why did you decide to revisit growing up in the East Village punk scene with "Make Shift Youth"? 

Before COVID shut everything down, I had spent about two years slowly working, scanning all my negatives from high school and the years after. I hadn't looked at my high school photos in so long, and I was surprised by what I had, especially that the majority of them highlighted all these ladies in the scene... something I personally feel you don't see a lot of (or enough of) when it comes to documentation of "alternative" scenes. 

Then, the lockdown happened, and I had a lot of time to sit and play on the computer with the images at home. I had been applying for grants to publish another, bigger collection of photographs from my travels and decided maybe I should start with this collection since it was smaller and really what started it all. 

So, I began slowly working, putting together images I wanted to use for this zine. I had just discovered Riso as a print process, and I really loved the idea that instead of just showing the original images, I could manipulate them to become abstracted and color-blocked prints, combining the two things I love: photography and printmaking.
On the opening page of the zine, you wrote the date and then scribbled it out. Why did you decide not to list the years?

I like the mystery. 

How do you balance documentation and abstraction in your visual storytelling? 

I began publishing zines in high school about being female in the punk scene, using my photographs and words to tell this story. I have been publishing zines and art books for many years now, combining stories about my life with photographs and printmaking. While I really wanted to show these photos, I didn't want to take away from them by visually adding any text or talking about them. 

As a printmaker, my work focuses on abstracting an image and allowing those who see the work to create their own narrative. When I started putting the photos I wanted to print together, I could already see how I wanted to abstract a few of them: extending aspects of the image or cutting out the parts I thought were important. I wanted the narrative to flow from page to page through composition, colors and shapes. 

You were born and raised and are still living in the East Village. Did you ever live elsewhere... or at least consider it? 

 I traveled a lot for a long time, riding trains and hitchhiking, but that's a different story and a whole other body of photo work I'm hoping to one day publish. The East Village has always been my home. 

Why have you decided to stay here? 

This neighborhood and city have changed so much, I honestly don't know anymore. 

How does your environment in the East Village continue to inspire or influence your creative process?

Growing up in the neighborhood was definitely one of the things that started me on the path of the work I make. As a kid and teenager growing up in the East Village, I experienced things a lot of people might not have. My mom is an artist too, so that also helped me see and interact with my surroundings in a unique way. 

I grew up playing in Tompkins and the 6th and B Garden, got in trouble for taking hypodermic needles to show and tell that my friend and I found in the concrete playground of P.S. 19... long before it became what it is now. I drank at Mars Bar when I shouldn't have, and got to go to shows at CBGB and Coney Island High.

All these experiences have shaped who I am today and fueled all my early work. The neighborhood has changed, gentrification and rising rents have priced out all the things I grew up with and loved. And while I do find some inspiration still walking down the streets, I find a lot of what inspires my new work comes from the time I spend traveling across the U.S. and other countries. 

I understand you have a treasure trove of photos. What else from the archives might you feature next? 

I would love to do maybe two or three more volumes or even have a show of the actual photographs. I’ve thought about doing one volume of only photos shot at punk shows...mosh pits, mohawks and a sea of hair dyed in all the colors of the rainbow. 

My real dream, however, has been to publish a photo book of the collection of images I have from after high school, traveling around and across this country for years. 

And did you ever replace your mom's Canon Rebel that you destroyed with beer while in high school? 

We had to get it fixed... she was not happy about that (it was kinda a loaner from her job). I think at the time, I also told her someone at the show spilled beer on it (not me, of course). 

My mom saw how much I loved photography and later bought me a smaller, more pocket-friendly (for my lifestyle) camera, which continues to be my favorite camera to shoot with.

You can find her Etsy shop here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

This East Village lot is now home to this 60-foot-long photograph of a car cemetery in Ukraine

Photos by Steven

Photographer Phil Buehler created this 60-foot-long installation on display (as of Saturday) on the NW corner of Second Avenue and Second Street.

Here's more about the work that he created after a trip to Ukraine:
"Irpin Ukraine: Please Don't Forget Us" is a 60-foot-long photograph of the cemetery of civilian cars destroyed by Russian forces at the beginning of the war. Some were those of civilians shelled as they tried to flee the city in an attack the Human Rights Watch labeled a likely war crime.
Per Buehler's Modern Ruins website:
This installation is up-close and visceral. It serves as a witness to just some of the horror and destruction Ukraine has experienced, a memorial in life-sized detail. It was stitched together from over 30 high-resolution images
... and an up-close look at some of the sections...
The work will be here along this empty lot through Nov. 30. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

The 'Daze' of our lives: Adam Zhu's new photo book chronicles today's downtown youth culture

Photos by Stacie Joy

East Village native Adam Zhu started shooting on film nearly 10 years ago at age 16. 

As he recently wrote: "Even then, I knew I'd like to see the work physically rather than rush to share it online."

Since his teen years, Zhu, who now lives in Chinatown, has been documenting his downtown experiences and friends, a multi-generational group of skaters, musicians and artists, through his camera. 

You can now see the results of his photography in his first book, a seemingly timeless collection of youth culture titled "Nice Daze." The book "is an homage to Zhu’s formative years populated by friends, lovers, contemporaries and mentors." (You may recognize Zhu's name. In 2019, he successfully launched a petition and raised awareness of the city's plan to cover the ballparks/skate area in Tompkins Square Park with artificial turf.)

This past Saturday, Zhu celebrated the book's release, which coincides with a solo exhibition of his work at CCProjects, a gallery space and cultural center on the second floor at 17 Allen St. (at Canal).

EVG contributor Stacie Joy stopped by the opening to meet up with Zhu ...
... and his friends and contemporaries who stopped by...
Attendees included Pretty Sick's Sabrina Fuentes, who's featured in the show and book...
CCProjects is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. The show will be here until Jan. 8.

The exhibit is curated in collaboration between Zhu and Daisy Sanchez. Copies of the 176-page book, co-published by CCProjects and Paradigm Publishing, are available at the venue as well as online here.

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.