Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jim & Karla Murray's "Store Front..." show extended at Clic Gallery

"Vesuvio's Bakery," James & Karla Murray, All rights reserved

Jim & Karla Murray's "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York" show has been extended to September 27th at Clic Gallery at 255 Centre Street in Manhattan. I love the careful, almost formal treatment the Murray's give to these colorful neighborhood outposts -- crisp, straightforward, squared-up, unfussy. The light is chosen & handled for maximum information. Each store front is just what it is. But take a good look! What they are is pretty wonderful...

The Murrays approach these pictures in the tradition of Eugene Atget and Walker Evans, two photographers also moved by the half-improvisatory accretion of visual elements that go into the street face of "mom & pop" businesses. Evans especially was fascinated by signage & the arrangement of goods to be looked at by passersby; he called it "the pitch direct" & photographed it throughout his career. (I wrote about Atget, Evans & signage here).

The Murrays add glorious color to this venerable lineage. They also make a point of adding social & political concerns. These are not just photographs. "The stores have the city’s history etched in their facades. They tirelessly serve their community, sustaining a neighborhood’s diverse nature and ethnic background, in a city with an unmercifully fast pace and seemingly insatiable need for change. Each is as unique as the customers they serve and have at their heart, owners who share a commitment to provide a unique service and in turn cement a neighborhood’s foundation," they write. And, in fact, many of the store fronts the Murrays photographed are already gone, replaced by chains stores bearing the same logo, color scheme & promotional advertising as every other clone of their worldwide corporate brand.

See more Jim & Karla Murry pictures on Flickr & at their website. Their book is available here.


kookaburra said...

Their photos are luscious; thanks for posting this. Also, good news is that Vesuvio Bakery lives again in the form of Birdbath.

Christine (CA) said...

Damn, I can't get down this month. I would love to see this show. City storefronts are one of my favorite themes and these are stunning.

Melz said...

Sadly it is a 'private' flckr photo so I can't see it. Must be content with the one you took, Tim, which is lovely

Tim Connor said...

Melz, But you should be able to see the Murray's photo here without any problem. I always make the corresponding pic on my Flickr site private because I don't want my photostream filled up with duplicate pix people can see on the blog. They are exactly the same as the ones you see here.