TREASURED: Honoring Precious and Vanishing Worlds

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TREASURED: HONORING PRECIOUS AND VANISHING WORLDS is an exhibition at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Solomons, MD that features three prints from my fine art portfolios: Bet Hayyim (House of the Living) and Endangered Historic Houses.
The art exhibit opens on June 15 and continues to August 26 2012.

Title: Hands of the Kohan.  Medzhybizh, Ukraine, 2008, Edition: 3/10
12 x 18 inches, Fine Art Paper with Archival Pigmented Inks

Title: Kohans, Levites and the Star of David.  Chernivtsi, Ukraine, 2008, Edition:3/10
12 x 18 inches,  Fine Art Paper with Archival Pigmented Inks

In 2008 I crisscrossed the heartland of the Ukraine  to photograph historic Jewish cemeteries and hand-carved tombstones in cities, towns and shtetls. Every site had a story to tell and each stone was an artistic treasure filled with iconographic beauty and mystery. The headstones of the Kohanim, descendants of the Biblical priests, had hands joined in a gesture of blessing. The pitcher pouring water represented the tribe of Levites, the assistants to the priests. Some epitaphs were intricately carved, the stones decorated in an elaborate Jewish script covering the entire surface; others held only the most minimal outline of the Star of David. Other friezes depicted symbols of lineage and gender. These gravestones, some dating from the 1400’s, depict a visual history of the once vast community of Eastern European Jews, and serve as reminders of the people who lived in this place and died.

Title: Shattered Spaces. 2012
Edition: 3/10
12 x 18 inches, Fine Art Paper with Archival Pigmented Inks

Less than two years ago the Shoemaker-Houck Farm was in excellent condition, one of the premier structures located within the New Jersey Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area that is owned by the National Park Service. The front portion of the house was built in 1822 while the rear portion was built in the eighteenth century. This National Register Site has no protection and has now become vandalized. The back door is wide open and window glass is missing, sadly revealing the ruins of neglect. These scarred elements are key to understanding the rural development of northwestern New Jersey and the significant role that area played in American history.

I am drawn to the timeless nature of historic architecture because it is a repository of collective memories – a record of our heritage, the builders and the people who once inhabited these spaces. There is an urgency about what I photograph because each derelict site is a reminder of our inadequacy as cultural stewards. I look to the architectural details, to the deeply etched memories in the stones, the walls and the structures as a window to remembering our past.

Brown Memorial Baptist Church, Brooklyn New York

This post congratulates Roz Li, Zach Rice and Li/Saltzman Architects, PC for their beautiful restoration work of the Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn NY.

Li/Saltzman has been working with this church since 2001. They started with the restoration of the exterior – restoring the brick, replacing the roof, recreating the missing stone turrets and the structural stabilization of the roof trusses. Once the exterior envelope was stable and watertight, the restoration of the sanctuary interior began.

“Saturday, February 4, 2012, was the Re-Dedication Ceremony of Li/Saltzman Architects’ latest project completion, the interior restoration of the Brown Memorial Baptist Church, a landmark church built in 1860,” Preservation Architect, Roz Li, proudly told me. “It was a memorable moment to witness the first religious service attended by the African-American congregation after several years of restoration work. The ceremony was enlivened by songs from the church’s great choir. The church was really vibrating! It was so joyful.”

Roz explained more about the history of the project, “Before the restoration the plaster walls and ceilings were cracked, and we had to net the heavy plaster ornamental medallions for fear of them falling. There were no chandeliers, and the lighting that existed was full of glare.

We did some probes and found out that beneath the paint, the original finish was tinted plaster made to look like stone with scored joints, and each simulated stone panel was a slightly different shade than the next, just as natural stone would have been.

So, with O’Donoghue Contracting Co, General Contractor, and Ernest Neuman Co, Decorative Painting Contractor, we recreated that historic finish. We designed new chandeliers, we installed new LED lights around the column capitals. We restored the walnut pews. As you will see, the results are dramatic. With the completion of the exterior and interior restoration, Brown Memorial Baptist Church celebrates its historic past as it faces the future.”

Jersey City Artists Studio Tour – 2011

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SUPPORT THE ARTS IN JERSEY CITY

Come on by and visit my studio during the Jersey City Artists Studio Tour
Saturday and Sunday – October 1st and 2nd
12 noon to 6 pm

Location:
Trix Rosen Photography Studio
124 Sherman Place (between Sanford Place and John F. Kennedy Blvd)
Jersey City, NJ 07307

While gender ambiguity and transformation have been the focus of my fine art photography, my career has also embraced the fields of photojournalism, portraiture and historic preservation architecture.

 

Go to Jail – The Essex County Penitentiary

The Main building of the Essex County Penitentiary stood alone on the hilltop, her battered façade illuminated by the setting sun. Five years earlier I had spent more than a month

systematically photographing the 32 acre jail complex as part of a required HABS (Historic American Buildings Survey) documentation before the institutional structures and outbuildings built between 1872 and 1929 could be demolished to make way for modern condominiums.

It was a cold December day in 2007 when I first walked through the dank prison in North Caldwell, New Jersey. The eerily silent jail complex appeared like a forbidding rusted ruin concealing deeply etched memories of its ghostly inhabitants within the walls.

My first job was to design a shot list that would become the basis for my final (107) 4” x 5” b/w film documentation. During my walk-through with architectural historian Ken Kalmis, I composed hundreds of digital images for reference.

The cell blocks, corridors, commissary kitchen, dining hall, holding pens and Power House were enormous spaces, and the light filtering through the oversize dirty and broken windows created a chiaroscuro effect on the floors and walls.
 
To capture the details, the patterns and textures in the highlights and shadows, and to tell the evocative story of each room was a challenge.
 

The solutions demanded a photojournalist’s insight to stay true to the narrative, lighting skills to creatively equate ambient light and fill flash, and knowledge of the guidelines for the long-term preservation of historic documentation.

On Tuesday, September 6, at 7:30pm, I will be presenting a slide show of images from my historic documentation of the Essex County Penitentiary at the Verona Historical Society. Local historian Robert Williams will guide you through the mysteries and legends associated with the buildings and property which were recently demolished. Numerous items salvaged from the buildings will be on display and prisoners will speak once again thru the tell-tale signs they left behind for us to find.

The meeting is scheduled at the Verona Community Center, 880 Bloomfield Ave., at 7:30 p.m. For more information you can email the Society at twoJVO@yahoo.com or call (973) 857-1968.

You will not want to miss this event–everyone is promised to leave with something to remember this important landmark and fully understand the contribution it made to our history.

Brooklyn – Heights

Brooklyn – Heights
June 3rd – July 1 2011

Distillery Gallery and Art Space
7 Hutton Street
Jersey City, NJ 07307

It was a bitterly cold December day in 2006 when I first walked through the Essex County Prison in North Caldwell, New Jersey. I had been hired to photograph over 100 4×5 film images of the Jail Annex complex (builit in the 1870’s), using the HABS (Historic American Buildings Survey) guidelines set up by the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, before the 32-acre site was to be demolished. Although the sun was bright, the deserted prison complex appeared like a forbidding ruin with concealed memories etched deeply into the stone walls.

In the Distillery Gallery exhibition are two of these images that reveal unspoken stories about the buildings and the thousands of imprisoned, now ghostly inhabitants.

 Their presence is felt, not only in the discarded objects, graffiti drawings and magazine pin-ups that remained attached to the cell walls, but in the very essence of the structures themselves.

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