For the last 30 years Yvonne Jacquette has depicted the city from on
highviewing the city from tall buildings and aircraft. Her view
Herald Square Composite II, 1993, visually describes the saturated
colors and lights of midtown at the intersection of Broadway, Sixth Avenue
and 34th Street and the glitter of the city at night. Named for the now
defunct New York newspaper, the small park in the square, is only partially
visible in the painting. Street traffic, the garish façade of the
Manhattan Mall, and the glowing logo of Toys R Us dominate the scene.
Escalators with decorative lights are visible from inside the Mall and
the traffic reflects on its exterior, along with line drawings of cars
and buses in this composite view.
Just a few blocks away the lights, buildings, and bustle of 42nd Street
provide the elements of Monika Bravos video projection Wind-Eye,
2001. Kaleidoscopic geometry of fragmented skyscrapers contrasts with
the eerie green images of people walking along sidewalks captured in an
infrared night shot. Music accompaning the video is allegro and the images,
faceted and jewel-like, are sequenced to move like the wind.
The complexity of the city is visually apparent in Michael Najjar's multi-layered
photographic prints. Like Fritz Lang whose 1926 film Metropolis
envisioned the futuristic city, Najjars Netropolis series
carries the notion a step further, positing the city as a locus of computer
networks and digital information. In Netropolis/Shanghai, 2003,
he photographed from the tallest building in the city of Shanghai. Using
a conventional camera, Najjar shot to the north, south, east and west.
These images were converted to digital files and combined into a single
image that was manipulated on the computer. In the final stage the work
is converted back and produced as a traditional silver gelatin print.
The resulting image gives the viewer a sense of seeing through time.
Whether it be Germans dressing as Native Americans or the London Bridge
replicated in Arizona, the irony of transported places and
hybrid cultures provides a subtext running throughout the work of Andrea
Robbins and Max Becher. In the series St. Pierre & Miquelon they have
chosen to photograph a French village that is 20 miles off the coast of
Newfoundland, Canada and 3000 miles from France. Settled in the 17th century,
the quaint village depicted in St. Pierre & Miquelon: View South,
2003, is French territory that uses European electrical standards, video
formats, cars, and the Euro, despite its North American location.
From the Duomo in Florence to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Elephant
House at the Bronx Zoo, cities and their monuments are tourist destinations
in Terry Towerys Kodaculturalism and The Transnational Tourists
Eye AKA Pictures from a Trip, 1984-2005. For over twenty years Towery
has documented the rituals vernacular amateur photography,
specifically the tourist snapshot, throughout the world. These images
record the visit and proclaim the person was actually there. This computer-based
project juxtaposes two photographs, snapshot size, on the screen in an
ever changing, random sequence and offers an interesting study of what
people do in front of and behind the camera.
Kahn and Selesnick are storytellers. In earlier photographs they have
woven tales of great expeditions with themselves and their friends in
costume, photographed against expansive, panoramic landscapes. In the
City of Salt series their narrative is a work in progress. Set somewhere
in the East, the fantasy city they have created with its dessert locale
and exotic buildings is photographed from small terracotta models and
digitally combined with the figures that move throughout the city streetsdefiant
of the rules of perspective.
Benjamin Edwards vision of the contemporary city embodies a type
of consumer utopianism, a place where fast food franchises and corporate
logos merge seamlessly with townhouses and park benches. The cities in
Edwards more recent work, like The Charms of Dynamism, 2003,
are not specific places. Constructed in a rigidly articulated perspective
space and a cool pallet of blues and grays, this towns
spotless un-peopled streets, and uninterrupted blue sky suggest a digitally
idealized version of the American cityscape.
Known for his grand scale architectural murals, Richard Haas transforms
city spaces with trompe loeil illusions. His work is represented
in this exhibition with a print documenting the transformation of the
exterior of the Edison Brothers Stores in St.Louis as well as a study
for one of its details, the figure of Peace, that is two hundred feet
high on the actual building. The print, a triptych, not only depicts the
buildings rich architectural details including obelisks, pediments,
and sculptural elements from three elevations but also provides a guide
to the sources for the designs details. The sources range from a
sculptural detail taken from the work of Lorado Taft from the 1904 St.
Louis Worlds Fair to a terracotta angel from a Louis Sullivan building
in New York. The print also shows the factory-like building before it
Thomas Lollar has created a map of Berlin in the style of the Severan
Marble Plan of Rome, a colossal (60 x 43 feet) third century diagram detailing
the ground plan of every building in the city. Based on the topography
of Berlin, as well as the imagination, Lollars Berlin Marble
Map, 2005, describes the area around Museum Island, the Rhine River
and Unter den Linden Avenue. In a related work Rotes Berlin, 2004,
Lollar has created small terracotta models of buildings in Berlinsome
are based on well known landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gates and the
Red Town Hall; others are inventions.
Sze Tsung Leong has documented the dramatic impact of urbanization on
the landscapes of China from the cities of Beijing and Shanghai to those
villages being removed to create the Three Gorges Dam. Chunshu, Xuanwu
District, Beijing, 2004, depicts a neighborhood where buildings date
from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) with some as early as the Yuan Dynasty
(1264-1368). Now an area in transition as traditional structures are being
cleared to make way for new high rises, it was once a neighborhood where
scholars preparing for the official examinations would stay while in Beijing.
This photograph captures images of old China and the new, with buildings
that could be found anywhere in the world. It is an image of both progress
Shimon Attie marks the loss of Jewish neighborhoods in WWII Berlin by
recreating, in part, the street life of those neighborhoods. Using archival
photographs, he projects these images onto the buildings as they exist
now. He works at night with generators and high power projectors, allowing
the viewer to see through time from the present to the past. Joachimstrasse
11a, Berlin, 2003, depicts a café with its patrons and a bird
shop. He conceives of this process as a short-term performance event that
is documented in photographs. In 1998 he worked on New Yorks Lower
East Side, using projected texts based on historical materials and interviews
with neighborhood residents to focus on past immigrations.
Carlos Vegas The Cross Bronx Expressway, 2002, depicts one
of the most infamous stretches of highway in New York City. Perennially
an item in the traffic reports on the local news, it is also the Robert
Moses road that created a gash through the Bronx, bisecting neighborhoods
and disrupting community life. Vega works on top of a ground of collaged
papersletters, notes, or ledger pagesfound in flea markets
or through friends. For Vega these fragments suggest peoples lives
and histories and now, for him, they are also associated with the memory
of papers blown across Brooklyn following the attacks on the World Trade
Center. In The Cross Bronx Expressway the pages are from a school
composition book. His Bronx view, seen from a high perspective, is surprisingly
rendered in pastels.
Harbor Freeway in Los Angeles County, California is the perfect West Coast
counterpart to the Cross Bronx Expressway, slicing through neighborhoods
and heavily congested. Bob Knoxs Harbor Freeway, 2003, painted
in graisaille is a cacophony of activities. At the distance it is a thoroughly
convincing photo-based rendering of a densely populated microcosm. On
close inspection quirky details begin to emergeeyes and smiling
faces, whimsical curlicues, and phantom highway lanes that begin and end
at will. Knox began his career as an illustrator and his work has regularly
been seen on the covers of The New Yorker.
Jane Dicksons Green Tunnel is from a series that features
highways, roadside motels, bridges, and tunnelsNew Yorks entrances
and exitsthe Manhattan Bridge, the Lincoln Tunnel, among them. Dickson
often uses non-traditional materials such as sandpaper, carpet or vinyl,
for the surface of her paintings, providing unusual textural possibilities
as well as real world references. In this instance the surface is Astroturf
and its interaction with the paint loaded brush produces a pixilated effect.
The shiny plastic of the Astroturf lends an eerie green glow that seems
to perfectly capture the florescent lighting and exhaust filled atmosphere
of tunnels. Cars and vans arch around a curve, traveling deeper into the
claustrophobic tube with their taillights glowing.
Anyone who has ever been stuck on a traffic-snarled highway can easily
relate to the frenetic city scene in Red Groos' fiberglass bas-relief
Loop the Loop. As always Grooms imagery is colorful and vivacious.
Cars, trucks, and taxisbumper to bumper arc and curl on a
roadway that looks like a carnival ride while pedestrians move along the
sidewalks nearby. The scene lends comic relief to the jammed New York
The Empire State Building is one of the familiar architectural icons that
John Kirchner examines in a recent series. Once the tallest building in
the world, it has taken on a mythical stature. Dramatic foreshortening
exaggerates the scale and grandeur of the building in Empire+110,
2004, but so do the additional floors in this manipulated photograph.
Its hard not to see this image as a need to restore the building
to its former place in the pantheon of world architecture and in some
way, compensate for the loss of the twin towers.
Known for his long-exposures that can sometimes take hours, Hiroshi Sugimotos
photographs offer a conceptual recording of an essence rather than a fleeing
moment in time. In United Nations - W.K. Harrison, 1997, Sugimoto
has depicted the UN building in New York as an abstraction in a series
of photographs featuring modernist architectural icons. The UN's cropped
tower reads as patterns in a range of grays and its blurred, out of focus
forms, wash away the details of the structure. The remaining image is
like those found in dreams or memories.
Gina Fuentes Walkers photograph Untitled, Open Windows, frames
city buildings, rooftops and water towers as if there were elements of
an abstract collage. Approached from an eye-level perspective, the warehouse
casement windows segment and isolate details of the vista. This understated
black and white image offers a description of the inherent geometry of
the urban landscape.
For many years Danny Hauben has been a painter of Bronx street scenes.
In View from the Bronx River Parkway II, he captures the convergence
of the #2 and the #5 train lines at 180th Street. Several Bronx neighborhoods
can be seen surrounding the platform and the train yard. Manhattan lies
in the distance like a dramatically lighted Oz. The twin towers of the
World Trade Center are barely visible as two simple strokes of paint.
Rackstraw Downes Canal Street Water-Main Project, 2000, a
graphite drawing, depicts construction materials deposited at a Canal
Street intersection. Concrete barricades and terracotta tiles, stacked
and scattered, fill the foreground. Glimpses of the surrounding neighborhood
can be seen behind. It is a lyrical drawing recording the construction
and maintenance of the citys infrastructure, simple and essential.
Its realism is unsentimental yet there is an extraordinary beauty in the
inherent geometry of the drawing.
Marked by the feeling of peace and quiet that only comes to a city early
on a Sunday morning, Stefan Kurtens Golf, 2002, depicts a
street scene that seems familiar and at the same time oddly strange. The
composition is simple: three buildings with shuttered windows and drawn
curtains, the sidewalk in front, and a Volkswagon parked at the curb.
There are no people. Painted on a ground of reflective gold paint, there
is a warm glow to the surface and the work seems to generate its own light
source. The colorful wares in a shop window on the lower right are the
only disruption of the subtle pallet.
A profound sense of quiet is found in Elger Esser's large-scale photograph
Paris, 1998. The sky, the buildings and the Seine are captured in
a long-exposure and are suffused with golden tones suggesting the light
and atmosphere of early morning. The streets are empty. A lone streetlight
remains lighted. The historic city appears to be suspended in time in
this monochromatic study. It is a moment of complete stillness.
Nancy Davenports manipulated photographs offer views of city buildings
under siege. Like Kahn and Selesnick, Davenport creates narratives with
staged elements. The imagery in this series of photographs recalls, and
in some instances, reenacts events ranging from the 1972 Munich Olympics
attacks to the work of 1970s performance artists. Davenports models,
dressed as terrorists, are photographed in the studio and combined with
shots of buildings to create composite images. In Revolutionary (day),
2001, men lower themselves from the rooftop. A lone figure hoists a flag
on a balcony. This series predates the September 11 attacks and, in the
aftermath of that event, Davenports imagery seems prescient. These
faux documentaries posit the city as a soft target.
The events of September 11 are subtle subtext of Jaime Davidovichs,
Fog, 2000, a video that captures a view of lower Manhattan and
the Brooklyn Bridge from his studio on the 92nd floor of the World Trade
Center. Cars move along the FDR Drive and boats travel up and down the
East River. Rarely throughout the video is the vista seen in its entirety.
As the video progresses, droplets condense on the studio window and the
fog moves in making the images increasingly abstract. The video runs for
twenty-five minutes showing a slice of city life in actual time.
September 11 also plays a role as part of the impetus for Jacobo Borges
study of the Chrysler Building. Lost in the fog one day, Borges
immediate reaction to the buildings disappearance was to fear its
demise. Shortly after he began a visual diary photographing the building
from the same window at different times of day, different seasons, close
up and distant, in focus and out. The individual photographs form a monumental
tapestry organized by color in Chrysler Project, 2004.
Josh Dorman creates both cities and landscapes that are pure flights
of fantasy. His stream of consciousness imagery, rendered with drawing,
painting, and collage techniques, hovers at the edge of abstraction. Old
topographic maps, yellowed with age, provide a base strata and conceptual
springboard for an invented geography. In Oceana, 2004, concentric
elevations trigger doodle-like found images that range from
Buddhas to graveyards. Building shapes alternate with blocks of color
in a cityscape in the foreground while very tiny cities can be found on
shorelines throughout the drawing.
Two figures, a man and a woman, glide freely through the sky over a tropical
city. It is early evening and the last vestiges of a flaming red sunset
streak the sky. Known for his unearthly illumination and surrealistic
scenarios, Robert Yarber sets a mood that is strictly from a REM state.
In Floating Isolates, 2003, the location is Cancun. The figures,
highlighted in blues and reds, seem irradiated. The lights of the beachfront
of hotels and the turquoise glow of swimming pool lights punctuate the
Jonathan Calms two minute video Crib, 2002, is a collage
of imagery that weaves animation, sound, graphic design, and documentary
video. Much of it filmed on the streets of Calms Brooklyn neighborhood,
the city as home reverberates through images of construction and demolition,
of homelessness and gentrification. An apartment building rises module
by module in a graphic that evolves into an icon of a house then becomes
a product code. A man pushing a grocery cart stacked with mattresses walks
down the street, the only human face. The parting image is a burning building.
Tomie Arai represents a city neighborhood not only as shops and apartment
buildings but also with its people. Developed during an artist residency
at the Museum of the Chinese in the Americas, Arai created a suite of
prints based on Asian women living in New York. In Chinatown, 1990,
she worked with Frances Chung, a poet who had lived most of her life in
the neighborhood. Working from oral histories, family photographs, and
archival images from the museums collection, Arai created a composite
image. A portrait of Chungs mother dominates one of the five panels
of this silkscreen construction. In a smaller detail, another photo-based
image, Chung is seen as a young girl with her mother in front of their
apartment building on Grand Street.
Focused on neighborhood transitions and change, Bertrand Ivanoffs
Open House, is a conceptual proposal to deconstruct an abandoned
building in the South Bronx. The proposed interventionfor a building
on Melrose and 160th St.would offer a temporary, site-specific art
installation intended to be a catalyst for neighborhood discussion and
a vehicle for interaction with the larger public. The project, will be
closely tied to neighborhood associations, companies, and programs at
The Point, a community based organization where Ivanoff works with students.
In Into the Night; Broadway, 2004, Paul Chojnowski captures the
illumination of New Yorks theatre district that has given it the
nickname "the Great White Way." Traffic flow and marquee lights
animate the scene. The glowing umber tones of this drawing are created
by painting on the paper with water and singeing the surface with a torch.
Photographic strategies are assimilated into the look of Antonio Petraccas
soft-focus imagery. In the early 1990s Petracca made photographs from
moving cars to study the blurring effects of speed. Kensington,
1999, based on a snapshot taken in London, captures the soft flickering
lights of evening. The blurring effect here suggests a pointillist fracturing
of color. The cropped scene is painted on an angular, three-dimensional
structure with moldings that suggest architecture. Drips are visible over
the edges of the structure making the process visible.
Olive Ayhens presents a composite view of Manhattan in Bristlecones
on Balcony. Complex and full of energy Ayhens city vista is
also seen from on highfrom the Empire State Building-. The Williamsburg
Bridge snakes through rhythmically swaying buildings in Midtown. The Hudson
is seen in the background. The scene blends the implausible seamlessly
with parts of the city in daylight and parts seen at night. The bristlecones,
arranged on the balcony ledge, are among the oldest living plants on earth.
They offer a fanciful touch and maybe a much broader historical perspective