As a proud, lifelong Newarker, I’ve spent much of the past few years painting and photographing my changing city. Pictures features a selection of my work, complemented by Mussorgsky’s seminal composition: Pictures at an Exhibition. Five movements out of an original fifteen are selected, each of which represents the feel of a certain part of Newark. The following five locations are featured:
THE PASSAIC RIVER – Promenade (1)
ESSEX COUNTY JAIL – With the Dead in the Language of Death (13)
MOUNT PLEASANT CEMETERY – Promenade (8)
DOWNTOWN NEWARK – Two Jews: One Rich and One Poor (10)
PORT NEWARK – Promenade (3)
Featured work from the above film
Here is a small outdoor library I designed for Hamilton Park in Jersey City…
As a child growing up in struggling inner city Newark, the gritty urban environment always inspires me. Newark’s abandoned factories and rust belt industries are fuel for my imagination and inspiration to remember the passage of time.
Situated in front of New York City’s Flatiron Building is a triangular spit of land bordered by three major streets, Fifth Avenue, Broadway, and 23rd. The currently underutilized space could become a vibrant public square. Such a park should reflect the vitality and dynamism of its neighborhood. Thousands of pedestrians pass through this highly visible intersection daily.
Popup Park creates a mixed use public space that adapts to its many users. Narrow metal panels measuring three by five meters roll out of a wedge-shaped storage container. Each panel serves a different function: bleachers, benches, bookshelf, public mural, basketball hoop, etc. When in use, the panels are alternated to adapt to multiple uses. When not in use, the panels slide back into their container, leaving an open communal space. Each panel is arranged according to the Fibonacci series or the golden rectangle. This permits for a both functional and aesthetically pleasing panel. The geometry of the rectangle partially determines its functional look. The square’s periphery is arrayed with trees to shade the communal area and to offer a respite from the hectic concrete jungle.
Strolling in the Bronx, one aspect arrests me every time: Homogeneity. Block after block, street after street, a never ending treadmill of bodegas, tenements, hair salons, C-TOWN supermarkets, strip malls, and laundries. I ask myself, “Wasn’t I just here before?” I become an explorer lost wandering the Sahara; I retrace my footsteps.
And then . . . There is the ceaseless cacophony of Spanish speakers, buses, and autos. The chaotic maze of streets leads me to fantasize walking thru a painting by de Chirico. The copious signage for SHOES, SHIRTS, PIZZA, etc. hints at shabby decadence. The never too distant fast food joint hints at obesity in a quality food desert. The din of distant cars on the Cross Bronx or Major Deegan hint at childhood asthma. I momentarily immerse myself in the urban grid.
After many hours, I spy an elevated subway stop in the far distance. I take the next southbound train back to Manhattan. I must return to the Bronx soon. The outer boroughs beckon.
To read more about my walks in New York, click here.
Marble Hill Home (2662 Kingsbridge Terr)
This home is still occupied (2662 Kingsbridge Terr).
Subway Trestle (228th & Broadway)
Parking Attendants (232nd & Broadway)
Pedestrians wait for bus (228 & Broadway).
Latino family strolls to Target (Marble Hill Projects).
Latino couple in South Bronx
Riverdale Home (246th & Cayuga)
Children’s Dentist (Kingsbridge & Heath)
Lady wearing shirt reading “Heart Breakers” passes Amiga Fasion.
Copious Signage (233rd &Broadway)
Tenement Row on Kingsbridge Road
King’s Pizza (Sedgwick & Kingsbridge)
Kingsbridge Corner Bodega
Metro Sunday Sidewalk School teaches Biblical stories.
Broadway & 242: Last Stop
Elderly lady crosses Kingsbridge Road.
Haircut on Kingsbridge
The meadowlands nestled between New York City and Newark is a strange sort of interstitial zone. It belongs to neither nature nor to man. The grasslands and birds of nature are abundant. Yet, so are the derelict factories and warehouses of yesteryear. The unwanted detritus of civilization is cast off into the meadowlands, ranging from garbage to industry.
Through this region of indeterminate identity pass millions of commuters on their way to and from work. Many look out the windows of passing trains, planes, and cars. Yet few care to observe the lapping tides and bizarre beauty of this unwanted strip of land. The meadowlands are simultaneously omnipresent yet strangely absent. It is something one sees but does not recognize (as Sherlock Holmes would note).
Strolling through the forest alone is a magical experience. The world of nature embraces me from all sides, making me feel at one with it. I momentarily transcend time and the ephemeral nature of my existence. I am at one with the eternal.
I admire the beauty and bustle of Grand Central Terminal, a truly grand public space.
Below is a small scale model of a steam crane I built. Many of the small parts are made from found materials such as copper staples, beads, and metal brads.
In the New York of my imagination, dinosaurs emerge from the Museum of Natural History to haunt the city “that never sleeps.” They roam the streets doing things only dinosaurs do, namely haunting and eating. For one night, the fabled city is theirs.
Museum of Natural History
New York Public Library
Empire and Chrysler
Whenever the world is beyond my control (which it always is), I can at least content myself through satiric fantasies of my imagination.
Land of the Free
God Bless America
God Bless Nationalism
The Last Proletariat
Long Live Capitalism
Water is the source of all life. Unfortunately, it is only sometimes the source of my artistic inspiration. Below are a few examples.
I often draw artistic inspiration from the Met Museum in NYC.
Walking in New York City is always an adventure. No two streets are the same as the dynamic city constantly evolves (not always for the best). A glassy new skyscraper climbs from the bedrock. The soaring suspension bridge spans the flowing river, a reminder of an older New York of docks and shipping vessels. Millions of anonymous people pass me on the bustling sidewalk. For me, it is sometimes strange experience of being simultaneously known and unknown. I know exactly where I am and where I am walking. Yet, I am simply another face among countless millions; I am anonymous. Like the buildings and bridges people have grown to accept as a way of life, I vanish into the crowd. I become merely a helpless extension of the hectic bustle of New York.
It is ironic that Newark should ignore the very river it was founded on – The Passaic River. It was the pristine wooded river our city’s founding fathers first saw in 1666. It was our city’s artery to the sea and industry’s source of income. It was the throbbing, flowing heart of our city.
After the automobile, the Passaic was no longer the watery highway of old. It is now this industrial town’s polluted heart. The bland corporate towers of Newark’s “Renaissance” meet our city’s industrial past at the riverbank. The murky waters contain secrets that will remain forever unknown. The industrial past clings on, refusing to vanish in forgotten waters. The river of change, the Passaic River, is a place of shifting contrasts where past meets present.
The river flows on.
To see a film featuring the work above: click here
When I gaze at the night sky, I wonder, “What does that infinite darkness contain?” I imagine a plethora of other worlds I can only dream of. I see worlds where gravity and inertia vanishes. I see worlds devoid of directions and natural geometry. It is a world of my own fabrication, superimposed over the pitch black sky.
My Little Planet
Space Age Church
Gears of Time
When I gaze across the Hudson, the soaring towers, glassy behemoths, and dark canyons of New York instill deep awe within me. The broad expanse of the city juts out of the water as if proclaiming: “I am here to stay. Come sun, wind, or water, I will remain. I will grow.”
Madison Square Park
George Washington Bridge from Riverside State Park
George Washington Bridge from Riverside State Park
Manhattan from Hoboken, NJ
Misty Manhattan Morning
Manhattan from Brooklyn Heights