New York Walking #13380, pigment print by Susan Bowen
Peter Donahoe, The Nightline: A Memoir of Work
Otis, Al and Roosevelt, coming in, silver gelatin print by Peter Donahoe
About the Artists
Richard Sandler, The Eyes of the City
Subway Kiss NYC, 1987, Silver Gelatin Print by Richard Sandler
The photographs in this show were made in New York City between 1977-2001, just before the proliferation of computers, cell phones, digital cameras and the internet. They depict a complicated time in the recent past that lives in limbo: too young to be historical and too old to resemble contemporary culture.
NYC was a mess; there was no way to filter the realities of the broken city, and there was no refuge in virtual space. Underground, graffiti tags and spray painting exploded onto every surface and whole subway cars were “bombed,” windows and all. Above and below ground, crime and crack were on the rise, rents were cheap, many souls were homeless, and tourists avoided the city.
To some, the New York City of the recent past was a hell on Earth, yet to others it was one of New York’s most fertile artistic periods. The streets of Times Square and the East Village, though dangerous, were also a haven for an edgy art scene with dozens of galleries and music clubs. In mid-town and on Wall Street the rich wore gaudy furs in unprecedented numbers, and like now, the extremes of wealth and destitution were on parade.
Sandler shot 4 – 5 rolls of film everyday, with one eye out for the lyric and critical juxtaposition, and the other looking to record civic history, itself.
bio Richard Sandler, Catskill NY, is an award winning street photographer and documentary filmmaker. His photographs are in the permanent collections of the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum, the New York Historical Society, and the Houston Museum of Fine Art. His monograph, The Eyes of the City was published in 2016 by PowerHouse Books with a forward by Dave Isay and afterword by Jonathan Ames.
Sandler has directed and shot eight non-fiction videos and films including, “The Gods of Times Square,” “Brave New York” and “Radioactive City.” He was awarded two New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships for still photography, a John Simon Guggenheim fellowship for filmmaking and a New York State Council on the Arts grant for filmmaking.
William Hellermann, The Eyes of the City (1980’s)
Baldwin Fish Market, pigment print by William Hellermann
In the 1980’s, William Hellermann did a lot of walking around New York City, especially Hell’s Kitchen, especially at night, shooting 35mm Kodachrome slides. There was something about the small buildings, the sole-proprietor stores and Irish bars that fascinated him. He was drawn to the buildings that had been let go, hanging on with failed dignity; that is, hopeless enterprises.
He became fascinated by the differences between them, not because they were that different, but because they weren’t. They all looked a lot alike, lights at the end of the tunnel. Many seemed to share a great concern with appearance combined with a great indifference to maintenance. They were so much about people, the people who owned them and the people who patronize them.
And he liked to see them head on, looking them in the eyes, so to speak. It seems that in the age of the automobile, we see the world in three-quarters view, coming or going and only for a split second see something straight on. To look at them that way has a fresh impact we would never suspect, even though they were familiar – in other words –photographs wanting to be taken.
bioWilliam Hellermann (1939-2017) In the 1980’s, as he walked the streets of New York City at night, the experimental composer and performer, William Hellermann, began a remarkable series of color slide of bars and ma & pa stores he encountered – especially in Hell’s Kitchen.
Hellermann was the recipient of numerous awards for his compositions and performances from the 1960s to the 1990’s including: the Pri de Rome Fellowship to the American Academy in Rome, National Endowment for the Arts Composers Fellowship, the NEA Opera Music Theatre New American Works Grant and six grants and awards from the New York State Council on the Arts. As a curator at PS 1, the Clock Tower, and the Alternative Museum, he launched some of the first exhibitions of sound sculpture and audio art, and in the process brought into usage the term “Soundart.”
Moving from Brooklyn to the Columbia County in the 1990’s Hellermann returned to his love of photography – both making new work of the urban landscape and revisiting his images from those nights in New York City. For the new work, as he walked around Hudson NY, he found his subject in the alleys of the city where the “garages have an accidental beauty.” In February 2017 his photographs were featured in a three person show at the Hudson Opera House, No Parking: The Alleys and Garages of Hudson NY. From his archive of slides from the 80’s, he produced the series of evocative pigment prints of New York City we are pleased to present at the Davis Orton Gallery.
New York Walking 12541, pigment print by Susan Bowen
New York Walking is an ongoing series of people in motion. The intense pace and vitality of the urban setting excites me; I like to shoot fast and furiously, to be totally immersed and to be swept up in, and along with, the tide of the moment.
This group of images were shot at busy street corners in New York City, Bowen likes to to record the swirl of activity around her. Her vantage point is low; she sits on the ground with a small tripod and rapidly capturing people as they walk by.
Bowen likes to be very spontaneous in her shooting and see what surprises that brings.
bio Susan Bowen lives in New York City and is known for her walking photographs and her overlapping multiple exposures, which she shoots with a plastic camera. Susan’s eighteen solo shows have been in New York, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Reno, Dayton, San Marino, Lubbock, and Tennessee. In 2008 Susan completed a 48′ public art mural for a school in New Haven, CT and created four murals for the D.O.T. in Minnesota. In 2007 she was profiled in Photo Techniques and Light Leaks magazines and received a Pilsner Urquell Lucie award. Susan has four images published in Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity, a book by Michelle Bates.
Peter Donahoe, The Nightline: A Memoir of Work
On the Overpass to Park Ave., silver gelatin print by Peter Donahoe
The photographs in this series are from Peter Donahoe’s monograph, The Night Line, a Memoir of Work. It portrays Donahoe’s years driving a taxi cab in New York City [1981-83]. These were the last years of the Checker fleets and the onset of Reagan’s recession. It became impossible for Donohoe to find work as a photographer’s assistant that had been his livelihood. Anyone who had a driver’s license was getting a hack license to make a living. “We were the surplus labor population that got New Yorkers where they wanted to go.”
Driving a cab gave him the opportunity to meet the unexpected –sometimes dangerously so – never knowing where the next fare would take him. The streets of New York were his workplace and this gave him the opportunity to see the city thru every hour of the night and in all conditions.
bio Photographer Peter Donahoe has exhibited widely and has been published in the US and France. Starting in social documentary photography he later turned to large format landscape work and now works exclusively with pinhole cameras This work has been included in the anthology ‘Le Stenope’ in the Photo Poche series published by Actes Sud, Paris. He has received numerous grants, has taught extensively and is in the collection of the Museum of the City of New York.
Donahoe’s book, The Night Line, was published by New Amsterdam Books in 1990 and, of the 90 images in the book, 25 were selected by the Museum of the City of New York for their permanent collection. It was seen as a unique description of working class life from the physical and social perspective of a cab driver. Some of these images have also been collected in ‘Taxi! A Social History of the New York City Cabdriver’ by Prof. Graham Russell Gao Hodges, Johns Hopkins Press.
He studied photography at Pratt Institute, worked as a freelance photographer in New York City and the Hudson Valley. He was also a New York City Police department photographer.