2017: New Ways of Seeing

When 2016 ended, I was happy to see it go.  It was a confusing and somewhat turbulent year for me personally, and the general mood in my city did little to soothe.  Now that we have turned the page on 2017, I can say that personally I had a much more positive year.  Myself aside though, in 2017 it seemed as if my city, my country and the world as a whole was losing its footing.  To put some positivity out into the blog-o-sphere, I feel inspired to share my own year in review, through my favorite photographs.  In 2017 found myself in a search for beauty and new ways of seeing .  I hope that you enjoy this journey.

JANUARY

A decades-long awaited reveal- the first stations of the Second Avenue Subway open.

FEBRUARY AND MARCH

The darkest months don’t keep me down.  I take advantage of a mild winter with my camera in tow.  An art exhibit on the life of and influences on Georgia O’Keefe at the Brooklyn Museum is the beginning of months of exploration for me artistically.

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APRIL, MAY AND JUNE

New ways of seeing: a photography course at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden pushes me to look beyond the cityscape and scenes directly taken from urban life.

JULY AND AUGUST

Continuing to focus on new imagery…

SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER’

I turn my attention back to New York City, but with a fresh perspective.

NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER

With the turning of the seasons, the light softens and colors mute.  Dry weather all summer even dulls the fall colors.  The mood darkens but there is still great imagery to explore in New York City.

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Transformation: Real to Surreal

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As I was walking down a street in Soho recently, I was struck by the reflection of myself and the scene around me in the open door of a commercial truck.  The metal-lined door was shiny and acted as a mirror.  The effect was interesting so I quickly shot a self portrait.  I realized later that the reflected scene was not true to life, but transformed in a surreal way.  The folds in my jeans were exaggerated along with the the length of my legs and there is a Frankenstein-ian distortion of my my face too.  Similarly, the street scene around me was washed out by tricks of the reflected light or stippled by the pattern on the truck’s metal exterior, and the door and I appeared to be floating.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/transformation/

 

 

 

 

A Whirlwind of Change: the Essex Street Market and the Lower East Side

Rapid change seems to be factor in any highly populated area.  New York City’s tiny barrios, sections, and areas seem to especially prone to it.  For every stalwart surviving building or business, there are dozens of shiny new additions.  I don’t travel to the Lower East Side (located south of Houston Street, north of Canal Street and East of Broadway) often, but when I do, I am struck by its rate of change.

Every building is a potential canvas, every storefront a quick-change artist.  Old, grey housing blocks await demolition and already-planned replacements warm up in the wings.

Here are a few photos that I took on Open House New York Weekend (October 14-15) of the Essex Street Market and nearby streets.  There has been a market at 120 Essex Street for more than 100 years, but this too will change next year.  The market will move from its basic but cheery building to a new “mixed use” development around the corner.  I can only hope that it doesn’t lose its charm in the process.

The Essex Market

Finding Lightness at the World Trade Center

On a recent, sunny, crisp afternoon, I took a walk through Lower Manhattan.  I decided to head below ground to see the place where I had walked exactly 16 years and 6 days ago.  It was the old World Trade Center Plaza where I had stood in a soft rain on Sept. 10th, 2001, only to learn that the free dance performance I’d come to see had been rained out.

I then walked through the dark, claustrophobic rabbit warren of a mall that occupied the few floors just below ground, picked up a few things and went home.  I had no idea what would happen to this place only 12 hours later.

After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, there were seemingly endless quarrels and delays in the rebuilding process.  As a result, it happened in a piece-meal fashion.  There were some highlights- the opening of 7 World Trade Center, shiny and futuristic just a few years later.  Then there was the demolition of the Deutsche Bank building and the slow rise of 1 World Trade Center (the Freedom Tower) which finally opened in 2013.

Alongside the Freedom Tour, the bony wings of Calatrava’s “phoenix” also slowly transformed a new transit station.  Again, it was beleaguered by delays.

My walk this weekend confirmed, at least for me, that the wait was worth it.  Although the new space is largely a mall- the Westfield World Trade Center- it is also a lovely, soaring public space.  It is light-filled and white, with clean bathrooms, a myriad of food, market and retail options.  It’s soaring wings seem to protect us from the canyons of skyscrapers on all sides, and the Oculus seems to be a fitting reminder of what once stood there.

On a recent, sunny, crisp afternoon, I took a walk through Lower Manhattan.  I decided to head below ground to see the place where I had walked exactly 16 years and 6 days ago.  It was the old World Trade Center Plaza where I had stood in a soft rain on Sept. 10th, 2001, only to learn that the free dance performance I’d come to see had been rained out.

I then walked through the dark, claustrophobic rabbit warren of a mall that occupied the few floors just below ground, picked up a few things and went home.  I had no idea what would happen to this place only 12 hours later.

After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, there were seemingly endless quarrels and delays in the rebuilding process.  As a result, it happened in a piece-meal fashion.  There were some highlights- the opening of 7 World Trade Center, shiny and futuristic just a few years later.  Then there was the demolition of the Deutsche Bank building and the slow rise of 1 World Trade Center (the Freedom Tower) which finally opened in 2013.

Alongside the Freedom Tour, the bony wings of Calatrava’s “phoenix” also slowly transformed a new transit station.  Again, it was beleaguered by delays.

My walk this weekend confirmed, at least for me, that the wait was worth it.  Although the new space is largely a mall- the Westfield World Trade Center- it is also a lovely, soaring public space.  It is light-filled and white, with clean bathrooms, a myriad of food, market and retail options.  It’s soaring wings seem to protect us from the canyons of skyscrapers on all sides, and the Oculus seems to be a fitting reminder of what once stood there.

 

A View from Above: an Urbanite’s Guilty Pleasure

If you have ever spent a significant amount of time in a large metropolis, you will know that there are at least three major ways to view a city: at street level; from a distance (think skyline); and from above.  While each of these vantage points have their charms, for many urbanites, a high perch from which to observe life below qualifies as a guilty pleasure.

I have lived in several Brooklyn neighborhoods, in apartments steadily rising: first at ground level; then a few floors up; later on the eleventh floor and now to an even higher floor.  I relish the view, which encompasses a wide variety of neighborhoods and landmarks.  I also appreciate the distance from the din of traffic and commerce, and the ability to see weather systems approaching and the setting sun.

Now I will share some shots with you, see if they bring you pleasure!

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Welcome, spring!

spring campus-COLLAGESpring has finally arrived in New York City.  In our northern climate, she often sneaks in slowly and flies away quickly, squeezed on either side by the more muscular New York winters and summers.

The warmer weather means a return to blogging for me, as I much prefer taking photos in the light of spring in summer.  Today I offer a haiku in celebration, and of course, a few photos.

The Bashful Tree

The pink and white tree

knows not whom she wants to be.

Spread your wings, dear tree!

pink-white tree

New Second Avenue Subway Stations Offer a Top Notch Art Experience for $2.75 or Less

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A few of Vik Muniz’s “characters,” or people seen riding the subway, from actual photos

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The dawn of a new year has brought considerable excitement to residents of Manhattan’s storied Upper East Side, to Q line subway  riders (myself included), to transit enthusiasts, and to admirers of public and contemporary art (me again!).

The multi-billion Second Avenue Subway project, decades in the making, opened with a bang on New Years Day 2017, debuting a reconfigured 63rd and Lexington Avenue Station, and three bright and spacious new stations at 72nd Street, 86th Street and 96th Street and Second Avenue, all serviced by the Q train.

It’s not often that we New Yorkers feel good about our subway stations, but what I saw blew me away.  I won’t go into great detail*, as much has already been written, but will share some images of the permanent art on display.

Over the last 20+ years, commissioned public art has become much more commonplace in the City’s transit hubs.  The art is usually added to rehabilitated stations.  This time, the art and the stations where designed with each other in mind and the result is stunning!

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Sarah Sze’s monumental “Blueprint for a Landscape” at the 96th Street station

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Some of the murals and mosaics can be viewed by simply entering the stations before one reaches the turnstiles, like this one, by Chuck Close.

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To see all of the art work, one can pay only $2.75, ride up to 96th Street, and then visit each stop: 86th, 72nd and 63rd  on the way back downtown. There’s no need to pay $25 to visit a local art museum!

The slideshow below features images by Chuck Close at the 86th Street Station

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Kudos to all who worked to complete these stations.  They are worth a visit!

*For more on the history of the Second Avenue Subway: http://nyti.ms/2iGcmey

Scenes from Brooklyn’s Beach Avenues

A few unusual and colorful roads run parallel through Brooklyn’s diverse beach communities. Brooklyn’s beaches occupy a small jetty of land that runs three or four miles east to west, with the Atlantic Ocean to the south and Sheepshead Bay, Jamaica Bay and Coney Island Creek to the north east.

The pictures that follow were taken along Oriental Boulevard, Brighton Beach Avenue and Shore Parkway.  I hope that they capture some of the great diversity of life in these communities.

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Swans in Motion, Sheepshead Bay

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Rocks at the Seawall

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Sheepshead Bay

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Ropes by the Bay

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Track Practice, Oriental Boulevard

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Residential Manhattan Beach/Oriental Blvd

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Brighton Beach, LIttle Russia By the Sea

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Brighton Beach Avenue under the Elevated Tracks

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Brighton Beach Elevated at Sundown

 

A Tree Grows in The Bronx

Of New York City’s five boroughs, The Bronx often seems to get the short end of the stick. Brooklyn once rivaled it for grit and swagger but today has become rather like an extension of Manhattan, hip, glamorous and a burg of widening extremes. This summer I decided to make only my third trip up there to walk the borough’s grandest Avenue: the Grand Concourse.

The Concourse, designed to be a self-contained residential and commercial hub, did not disappoint.  In reading about it before my visit, I  learned that the number of Art Deco buildings still standing along the Grand Concourse is rivaled only by Miami Beach.  I also remembered that of all of New York’s boroughs, The Bronx has the most parkland and also the City’s largest park, Van Cortlandt.

My walk took me near Yankee Stadium, past three small parks, grand Art Deco government buildings and apartment houses, into the Bronx Museum of the Arts (it’s free!) and past a large shopping mall.

Trees definitely grow in the Bronx!

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