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.