Volume 19 | Issue 30 | December 8 - 14, 2006


“We Cover the Waterfront”
Through Dec. 24
Photgraphic Gallery
252 Front Street

Courtesy PhotoGraphic Gallery

Naima Raum’s eerie “Ghostly Figure on South Street,” at PhotoGraphic Gallery’s group show

On the waterfront

Group show gathers resident photographers of the South Street Seaport

By Ellison Walcott

The otherworldly nature of the South Street Seaport has long attracted art and art types who sought out New York urban life in its rawest form. Now, to mark PhotoGraphic Gallery’s one-year anniversary, the pioneering photo gallery in the South Street Seaport has gathered 21 photographers who live and work in the area for a group exhibit titled “We Cover The Waterfront,” on view until December 24, 2006.

The group show offers a lyrical view of the diversity and originality at work among Seaport photographers. Using both digital and traditional forms, color and black and white media, the photographers in “We Cover the Waterfront” actually cover more than just the Seaport and Lower Manhattan, photographing a wide range of subject matter, from Andrew Gombert’s sports photography to Stephanie Hollyman’s portraits of the people of Mali.

Working in the traditional medium of black and white photography, Noel E. Jefferson and Joel Greenberg explore similar themes and share a talent for capturing the beauty of architecture. At the core of their subject matter are some of the bastions of New York history. Their black and white prints combine a contemporary, evocative aesthetic with a sense of the romantic.

Noel Jefferson’s photographs approach New York City from unusual vantage points. “View from 7 WTC, 6-4-5” looks down into the city, a perspective that almost makes the viewer feel slightly off balance, as though you could actually fall into the photograph. “Rector Street @ Broadway, 6-4-5,” on the other hand, has a claustrophobic sense and renders buildings leaning in, like Pisa in Italy.

Joel Greenberg’s early 1980’s photos of the Brooklyn Bridge explore similar themes, but in a more traditional method, and are as every bit as captivating.

Naima Rauam’s and Barbara G. Mensch’s photos have an eerie vibe to them. While Rauam works with archival digital prints and Mensch uses the traditional gelatin silver print, both explore the creative and powerful potential of their mediums.

Rauam utilizes the natural beauty of a photograph, manipulating its appearance while conserving the essential features. She photographs her original paintings, which she then digitally alters to create an implied narrative infused with a sense of drama and ethereality. In “Ghostly Figure on South Street,” a vaporous being surrounded by illuminated boxes stands at the center of the photograph. With features barely legible, Rauam’s figure seems evanescent.

Mensch’s “Klebber’s Murder (Security South Street Seaport), December 1999,” explores similar themes in a different medium. Again, we have a dark life form in a pitch-black scene, but this one is standing in a “Hounds of the Baskerville” fog. While the form is only thumbnail size, it is the main subject of the photo. Like Rauam’s photo, there is a push and pull between the figure and the elements that surround it.

While only a handful of imagery in the show captures the neighborhood, “We Cover The Waterfront” will appeal to viewers with its diverse selections of the District’s leading photographers. Each work has traditional form and composition at its inception, while many explore new and old themes of expression enhanced by today’s technology.

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