Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Here are my available light shots from Sunday night. These are of my house (the one with the porch light) and my street, are, I guess, alley would be more correct. I really like my street because it is an alley, and the only ways to get to it are from alleys, so it is kind of secluded in a densly populated neighborhood, and because of all the one way streets around us, we don't get a lot of traffic. I really like the houses on my street, and the way it looks at night, which is why I decided to shoot it.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Peter Hujar was born in 1934 in Trenton NJ. He had been a fashion photographer in the 1950's and 1960's, but was mostly known for his work in New York City in the 1970's and 1980's. He is most associated with his black and white portraits of avant-gharde stars, but his subjects range from nudes, animals and night-time Manhattan. His background in fashion photography translates to his studio portraits. He first became big because of his work with male nudes and portraits from the gay scene, including portraits of transvestite performers like Divine and Candy Darling. He also shot other well known people like Susan Sontag, David Wojnarowicz and Robert Mapplethorpe, who was highly influenced by Hujar, as was Nan Goldin. His early work was more plain, shooting in black and white and using an 8x10 camera. Interestingly, Hujar did not find his subjects to be particular, so he made no effort to make them look so, unlike other photographers like Diane Arbus. His portraits have an interesting feeling to them. The subjects seem comfortable with him, and from what I've read, his subjects trusted him not to take advantage of them, which he didn't. His photo of Candy Darling before she died is haunting yet beautiful, as she lays on her hospital bed, surrounded by dark flowers with a single rose on her sheet. She still wears heavy makeup and her hair is done up, even though she is soon to die from bone cancer. He also shot Robert Mapplethorpe masturbating , naked on a bed, as well as Cookie Mueller, who, as one site put it: "is seen in a 1981 portrait, one more damaged personality coolly appraising the man behind the camera while revealing the vulnerabilities and dilemmas of her own condition. Mueller was to die, like many of Hujar’s subjects – and like Hujar himself – during the Aids epidemic that began to sweep New York in the late 1980s. " Hujar was an important photographer in that he bridged the gap between the New York art scene of the 1960's, which was characterized by Andy Warhol's Factory, and the people who came about in the 1970s, suck as David Wojnarowicz. Hujar's night photography is also notable, and that work has been compared to Brassai and Weegee. Another quote I found gives some context to his urban landscape work: "His urban landscapes reflect the condition of the city in the mid1970s, when New York was suffering in the wake of the oil crisis and when downtown was notorious as a playground of criminals and gay hustlers. His photograph of the Woolworth Building in 1976 is a subtle study of mystery and memory; but his shots of the deserted streets of the meat-packing district and other abandoned areas offer the kind of imagery of physical ruination to which he was frequently drawn. " Hujar did not receive much recognition during his lifetime, but his work has become more popular following his death in 1987.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
This first photograph is this series is the McCune Block, which was demolished in 1915 to make way for the Citizens Trust and Savings Building which opened in 1918, and still stands. Business in the McCune block included McCune, Lonnis and Griswold, seller of hardware, iron and carriage goods. The address is 51 N. High St.
From the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's website, on the history of the Ohio Penitentiary: "
Built in 1834, the Ohio Penitentiary was actually the second Ohio Penitentiary, the third state prison, and the fourth jail in early Columbus. In April 1955 it housed an all-time high of 5,235 prisoners. Most prisoners were removed from the prison by 1972 with the completion of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, and the facility was closed in 1984. The state sold the Ohio Penitentiary to the City of Columbus in 1995.
Much debate surrounded the future of the Ohio Penitentiary. When thoughts turned to demolishing the penitentiary, the preservationist community mounted a campaign to save at least five historic buildings on Spring Street. However, that effort failed and the Ohio Pen was demolished, with the exception of some sections of the Pen's limestone facade, which were dismantled for possible reuse.
The City of Columbus leased the grounds to Nationwide Mutual Insurance and the Dispatch Printing Co. The 23-acre site, bounded by Maple, West and Spring Streets and Neil Avenue, is now a 1,000 car parking lot for the $125 million Nationwide Arena next door."
I remember driving past the Ohio Pen a lot as a kid. It was always empty, as it had closed the year I was born. But it was always an intriguing building, and I really always felt compelled towards it every time I passed it. I feel that if it was still around now, it's something I would photograph often. But, it was torn down when I was still in high school, before I was interested in doing what I do now. One thing I always found fascinating was that my mom once told me how in the the Ohio Pen was a popular destination for school field trips, as my grandmother had experienced when she was in school (not sure what grade). It was kind of a way to scare kids straight from crime. Anyways, I'd like to compile some more info on this prison at the library, but theres more great photos on Columbus In Historic Photographs here, http://www.columbuslibrary.org/cmlohio/photohome.cfm. Just type in Ohio Penitentiary in the search box. The location was Spring and Neil Sts. More info to come.