Saturday, January 31, 2009

Regis - June 5, 2007

My friend Regis now lives in Moscow, but once he lived in New York. We are in touch and I tell him he must come visit to see how much everything has changed. It is always too complicated, he does not have the right passport with the microchip. So many problems. He asked me to hang his picture around the city like the tags as a celebration of the 20th anniversary or his non-return to New York. He chose three places.

The tag wanted to hang vertically which wasn't the best orientation for Regis with his horizontal picture. Here is his point of view.

I do not know if it was the influence of Moscow, but these pictures became strange right away.

I wanted Regis to know that East 23rd Street has resisted the gentrification that has blanketed the city.

There was a lot of other street art around, especially downtown.

I really love the shoe person. I have seen the shoes around and they are so glam. There are inspirational messages on the sole towards the arch. It is a joy to run across them. I do not remember if I noticed the shoe when I hung Regis' tag. There were some stragglers from the Saturday night lounging on the street including a man in platform boots who seemed half-goat. I was distracted. There has been a wealth of the bolted-onto-traffic-pole art recently. Some of it is a bit haphazard, but this crazed face with the red background ties in nicely with the shoe and Regis' picture. I think I like this picture the best. Welcome back man.

I love this bit of traffic pole bolting. It seems to evoke 'Peter and the Wolf' and the Great Bear of Russia at the same time.

I just think this one is pretty.

I also like Regis floating over the Upper West Side.

I wanted to find a place for Regis that he didn't ask to see. I think of anything and then as I was heading home I decided on the spot of the recently departed CBGB's. It was the end of the run, many people were awake and doing the early morning thing. The spot in front of CBGB's had so changed, that there was no pole for me to hang a tag.

Here the 'For Rent' sign is hanging in the CB Gallery store front. There were no more old style traffic signs on Bowery. Every pole was smooth silver metal. I hope the sticker artists zap each one. I found an old style pole a bit into Bleeker, the Ginko tree is blocking the view.

Again there was one of those traffic pole boltings and this one had a depressing message. But I think it would make Regis laugh.

If not... here is a view of Mercer Street near Pearl Paint. It is one of the sweeter images in the world to me.

We will always have Pearl Paint

Michelle - July 24, 2007

It was so much fun to have Regis visit the city, that I decided to invite other friends to visit. The first to send me a picture was Michelle. She is a video artist who lived in Nolita when it was just called Little Italy and now lives in San Francisco. While Regis wanted to float over the places of his past, Michelle had places to visit and shopping to do.

First she visited an old friend on 
96th street and Park Avenue.

Her picture looks a little like a stained glass window here

Then it was off to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Next it was the Farmer's Market at Union Square.

I had wanted to come back and take a picture when the farmers were actually there marketing, but when I returned, her picture was gone.

So instead, here she is in Union Square which is looking very New York

And here is Michelle pointing her video camera towards the park

We moved on to Veniero's in the East Village which has great cakes and Italian pastry


It isn't terribly photogenic however. It was hard to find a good place to hang the picture. 

We ended up in front of Pearl River, the Asian department store in Soho. It was very windy and hard to get Michelle to settle down to be photographed

I caught some pictures but not with Pearl River. Soho is always the best place to take pictures

This picture stayed in my mind after I shot it.

The disembodied hand, the sharp angles coming from Pearl River, the bit of tape at the bottom and the trace of Katsu; welcome back.

Jean-Marc - September 18, 2007

I have known Jean-Marc since I was a teenager. Our paths crossed over the years, sometimes in New York and other times in Paris. He has always been involved in theater, or film. I offered him a chance to visit and he suggested three places.

He would first go visit an old friend on the Lower East Side. This is a street that has totally transformed from its former life as prostitution strip with the drug dealers in the park across the street. Now there is a hotel on the corner.

The light was intense on Forsyth Street, it was doing magical things

Here is Jean-Marc against the trees of the park. There has always been a special feel to the park, even when it was dangerous, it was beautiful. Now it has been all fixed up, people play basketball, or soccer. There are skateboarders. The old men hang out with their songbirds. It is still beautiful.This is the back garden of a building on 1st Street which faces Houston. There are mirrors decorating the doors, and frames, hanging from the windows, the fire escape. It glitters in the morning. All the other gardens facing Houston have concrete fences blocking the view. This one building is open. Jean-Marc isn't in the picture, but I thought he'd like to see it.

Next he would go to Greenwich Village, he did not specify where. I went to the intersection of 10th Street and 4th Street, which seems a quintessential Village spot. It is actually a little tacky, with a big Fedex sign and maybe a Subway deli. I walked along 10th (I think).

I thought it would amuse him to see how big the Austin Minis are over here.

Some fire escapes, complete with American flag.

Last, he wanted to go to Chelsea, where he took theater classes with another old friend who used to stay at the Chelsea Hotel.

Here Jean-Marc fluttered a bit agitatedly under the banners of support for Stanley Bard, former manager of the Chelsea Hotel. The other partners who own the hotel with him decided to hire a management company. The artists and musicians who live there are worried that they will be forced out by higher rents. I feel sad at the thought of another creative haven becoming a luxury playground. I wonder what will be left of New York after all the fun people are priced out.

But enough of that. Here is a little more Chelsea.

Since Jean-Marc only chose three places to visit, I decided to surprise him with a fourth. I took him to St. Mark's of the Bowery, a church that is a firm supporter of the arts.

When I came back in the afternoon, there was some outdoor theater going on.

It looked like political theater. The performers certainly did not like George Bush (he is the fellow with the duck bill). They were none to fond of weapons manufacturers either, it was perhaps part of the antiwar protests from the day before. I thought it was all a nice setting for Jean-Marc to float over.


Lisa said...
What a great idea. Is he going to arrange a reciprocal visit for you in Paris?

Thanks for the reminder about your blog... I've subscribed now so I won't miss anything. I love your photographs and observations about the city. It's amazing the changes that have come to pass since we were knocking around the Lower East Side, isn't it? I just can't bring myself to love any of them.

Moscow - October 2, 2007

The original plan was for Regis to visit me in New York and for me to visit him in Moscow. He finally took me around a few weeks ago and here are some pictures. I have always wanted to visit St. Basil's Cathedral, it fits my romantic image of Russia.

This is near Regis' apartment.

This is near the Kremlin. I really like this picture.

There are more pictures on Regis' website

Now I have expanded on our original idea. I will probably not visit any other cities, unless Regis takes me with him - Paris maybe, or Rome? I have always wanted to see Rome.