For February’s theme, I chose the word Icon. The Andy Monument in Union Square seemed fitting not only because it represents a NYC icon in Andy Warhol but also because it’s a striking piece of art. It stands out, like Warhol did and like the city itself does. Beautiful, interesting, unusual, and memorable.
Read below for more information on the artist Rob Pruitt
Inspired by Warhol’s art and life, Rob Pruitt (b. 1964, Washington DC) created The Andy Monument as a tribute to the late artist. It stands on the street corner, just as Warhol did when he signed and gave away copies of Interview magazine. Pruitt’s sculpture adapts and transforms the familiar tradition of classical statuary. The figure is based on a combination of digital scanning of a live model and hand sculpting, its surface finished in chrome, mounted on a concrete pedestal. It depicts Warhol as a ghostly, silver presence: a potent cultural force as both artist and self-created myth. As Rob Pruitt observes, “Like so many other artists and performers and people who don’t fit in because they’re gay or otherwise different, Andy moved here to become who he was, to fulfill his dreams and make it big. He still represents that courage and that possibility. That’s why I came to New York, and that’s what my Andy Monument is about.”
For this month’s word “Beauty” I had originally intended to shoot St Patrick’s Cathedral. In my 10+ years in NY I had never stepped foot inside and part of what I love about this project is being exposed to things I might not otherwise be in the city I live in. I took the day off, a much needed break from the whirlwind my life has been these days, and after some coffee and reading, set out for my planned location. Despite the dreary cold weather I decided to get off a subway stop early and take a longer walk to the cathedral. It was on my way there that I spotted St. Thomas Church on the corner of 5th Avenue and 53rd Street. I used to work in the area so I had passed by this church more than once and was ashamed that I’d never taken the time to really look at it. I shot a few pics from the outside, hesitantly walked up the stairs and peeked my head indoors, making sure I wasn’t disturbing a service. The place was completely empty and I was overwhelmed by what I saw, a wall at the far end of the church that glowed, intricate carving, quiet, cool, and infinitely beautiful. I sat in the church for 20-30 minutes, soaking up the silence which is a rarity in my life these days, and just took it all in. Had I not decided to get off a stop early, I wouldn’t have discovered this beautiful church so I’m grateful for happy accidents. I did end up going to St Patrick’s Cathedral afterwards and honestly, for all of it’s grandeur, it paled in comparison to St Thomas.
(the view when I first walked in)
St Thomas Chuch
Designed by the distinguished architectural firm of Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson and completed in 1913, Saint Thomas Church is built in the French High Gothic style, with stone ornamentation of the later Flamboyant period in the windows, small arches of the triforium, and stonework surrounding the statuary in the reredos. The flat wall behind the altar is characteristic of English cathedrals, and the magnificent reredos, one of the largest in the world, is strongly suggestive of the single, massive windows that terminate the naves of many English churches designed in the Perpendicular style.
Except for its length, Saint Thomas is of cathedral proportions, with the nave vault rising 95 feet above the floor. The church is built completely of stone, according to medieval construction principles, using load-bearing rib vaulting without the space-spanning benefits of steel. The size, spacing, and number of columns and arches are precisely what is necessary to support the structure – and give it the unique acoustical properties associated with churches built of the same materials and in the same way during the Middle Ages. Because much of the music presented in concert at Saint Thomas was composed for use in these churches – not in the concert hall – Saint Thomas Church provides an authentic space in which this music can be heard today.
I’m not sure why I had such a difficult time with “Action” but I did. It’s so wide open and specific at the same time. I try to make these photos truly New York City centric so in the end I chose the Green Market in Union Square. This place is always hopping, people buying, wandering, shooting photos, meeting friends. I’ve never seen it not busy when the booths are up. There are people everywhere looking and sampling, chatting and weaving, doing that typical NYC dance in a crowd.
I’m a little behind on posting photos but wanted to finally get these up. Just to clarify, I’m not eating prime rib every day. These photos are from the Christmas Eve dinner prepared by my sister in law Dawn and yes, it was as delicious as it looks.
December is obviously a busy month so Paul and I decided to take it easy with our pick and go with “photographer’s choice”. This photo was taken with my phone which I know many will frown upon. I’ve had an idea on my mind for a while now, capturing the view of entering Manhattan from Queens on my morning subway ride. In this case, I had my phone available and quickly snapped the shot. I know this isn’t the best photograph between the glare of the train glass and tweaks with iPhone photo apps but it is sentimental because I get to see this each time I enter the city. Pretty amazing view first thing in the morning in my opinion!
For the December NY/LA Photo Project I chose the word “Quintessential”. Since we are doing this project based on our cities, I wanted to shoot something that was recognizably New York City. I see the Empire State Building each time I step outside my office building and it is especially beautiful and iconic at night. It’s an ever-present reminder of the amazing city I live in.
For October’s theme of the NY/LA Photo Collaboration, Paul chose “Light” and I thought there was nothing more synonymous with Light and New York City than Times Square. Although it’s beyond commercial and flooded with tourists, it’s still such a beautiful spectacle!
Photo: 539 West 162nd Street
For September’s theme, I chose the word Memory because I thought it would be a good challenge and started thinking of various ideas, discarding the first few that were strong in memory but didn’t have any relation to my city.
The idea for the above diptych came about because for the last 6 months I’ve been gathering information, trying to build a family history that I could one day give to my sons. I come from a slew of interesting characters, one of which is my grandfather Edgar Brastow (formerly Alvarenga before being adopted by his stepfather), who was born in New York City and lived just 45 blocks from my first apartment in the city (he on 165th and Broadway and I at 207th and Broadway). I liked the idea of visiting the building/street/neighborhood he once lived in and picturing him as a little boy in this city that we’ve both experienced, just at different moments in time. Sentimental I know. This isn’t my best photograph(s). It’s not particularly creative and there was construction at the entrance that I had to work around but in this case I felt the experience was more important than the end result.
Below is my Great Grandmother Theresa Alvarenga’s Naturalization paperwork where I came across the address they lived at during the 30′s.
Friend and NY/LA Photo Project co-conspirator Paul Kingsley has chosen “light” for October. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of creating something interesting for our next theme.
Continuing my project with friend and fellow photographer Paul Kingsley (see his photo for August here), this project was a challenge for me. When I initially thought of the word “Forgotten”, images of abandoned buildings, deserted cars, people down and out on their luck came to mind. After some thought, I decided I wanted to photograph the homeless man who occasionally sits at the top of the stairs of my subway station, asking for change. I watch people in the morning rushing past him, afraid to look at him, unable to put themselves in his shoes – where a few different circumstances could have landed them right where he is. But the picture above is not of him because I felt that taking his photo would be exploiting his hardship for my creative endeavor. I struggled with the idea but come away feeling good about the choice. Since New York is never short on forgotten items, instead I give you the abandoned shoes I came across on my walk to work. I imagine someone found them askew and lined them up for the visual effect and then went on their way. They caught my eye as an everyday item left behind.
“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly” – M. F. K. Fisher