Friday, January 29, 2010

Some grafitti, some ranting

There is a building near the Brooklyn Bridge park that I can see when I am crossing the bridge.  There has been construction work going on near it and it is on a sort of lonely road which is most unusual in New York.  I wanted to take a picture of it.  To remind myself, I made this sketch.  I decided to go take the picture the other day after wrestling with a new hanging sculpture.  (I have been using thin metal labeled 'piano wire' and now I realize that it truly is piano wire which explains why everything bounces around on it at the slightest  vibration)  Following a frustrating morning, I grabbed my camera and headed downtown.

Unfortunately, I had waited too long and the building was covered in scaffolding.
I was annoyed, perhaps unreasonably.  The city has been chewing on the land around the building for months, it was just a matter of time before it turned its attention to the building itself. Still, it seems that I am often moving too slowly for a city intent on shedding anything that is not fresh and clean. The problem is that refinished brick and newly painted shutters make for boring photographs.

In something of a snit, I photographed a nearby graffiti tag.
The young son and I were playing around with light graffiti before the weather became disagreable.  This tag would make a good light pattern, I want to see if we can do something like it when spring settles in.
I liked this tag too.  I quickly returned to my funk because down the road, more old buildings are under scaffolding about to be scrubbed of their character.
I contemplated the newly re-opened arched passage under the Manhattan Bridge with its limp Christmas decorations.  I suppose it could be worse, at least the lights are modern instead of the faux antique lamps that usually appear after renovations.

My ire was soon drawn to the ugly building across the way.
So out of place, it would be more at home near a suburban commuter train station.  The building it replaced was small and rather nondescript, but it had a wonderful door: 
 I headed back, despairing the future of spontaneous beauty in unusual places.  Then some torn paper and old glue on a utility box caught my eye.
 It reminded me of an old daguerrotype photo, or maybe one from Talbot's method with the paper negatives.  I can almost see a landscape; a city or maybe a canyon leading to a wooded ravine.  So it helped to restore my faith in random beauty.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


It has been overcast a lot, when the sun makes an appearance, the light has been soft and white.  A few days ago it was raining and I went down near the Brooklyn Bridge.  The traffic barriers are painted celery green and the color was reflecting in the puddles.

 It was difficult taking pictures in the rain with the tripod and an umbrella, I didn't even notice the graffiti until later.

There is green everywhere.  I am surprised at how much for January.
I thought that lichen only grows in non-polluted areas.  It is nice to see some in Brooklyn.
The mosses are happy in spite of the strange weather.

The green thornbush reminds me of something from a fairytale.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Manhattanhenge - winter edition

I finally made it out to the dawn version of Manhattanhenge when the sun rises or sets in alignment with the Manhattan street grid. This compliments the sunset view which I had photographed previously.

Gilles was in town again and delighted to join me in the early morning as he did for my Deborah Moody project. It was pretty cold out but not unbearable. We went to 42nd St. to get the Chrysler building in the picture. Once again I marveled at the New York sunrise that bursts up suddenly from the horizon.

The alignment was brief. The sun moved quickly behind the sky scrapers, its illumination shifting to one side of the street.

It was a clear crisp morning with the light spilling out down the street. Gilles and I marveled at the beautiful morning. Life was good.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mystery Lost on the Bridge

Top of the stairs to the Brooklyn Bridge

My friend Regis came to New York last month. He was the inspiration for my Wish You Were Here project. It was a hectic visit, he was only here for a week and Christmas was coming. After he left, I found a small scrap of paper in a book he gave me. On the paper was written "Say hello to NewYorkNewYorkNewYork for me Cheers". I thought maybe it came from one of Regis' friends. He carried a picture of me around Moscow and brought it to Jordan so I could 'visit'. He left the photo behind in a hotel room and my traveling days ended. Perhaps this paper was from some Russian friend who wanted to see New York. I thought to take the paper around and photograph it at places I would take any friend who visits.

I started at the Brooklyn Bridge because it is the best view and the only place in the city where the sky is unobstructed.

I stopped here because the light was so nice but that is when things went awry. I sensed the paper might fall before it did. I snatched it but it slipped out of my fingers through the wooden slats of the walkway.

There was really nothing more to be done. The mystery paper is probably still fluttering around the bridge. It is not a bad place to end up I suppose.