The Grand Luncheonette: Sadly, No Place Left at the Table for 42nd Street Diner

The Grand Luncheonette: Sadly, No Place Left at the Table for 42nd Street Diner

Fred Hakim, last of the old-time Times Square hot-dog vendors, has died at the age of 83. Mr. Hakim’s family owned a hole-in-the-wall hot-dog counter in Times Square, which was the last of its kind when in the 1990s the city began condemning dozens of establishments like it in order to revitalize the area. The Grand Luncheonette was a seven-seat, 250-square-foot piece of Edward Hopper streetscape on West 42nd Street, which Mr. Hakim’s father had opened in 1941 and wryly named the Grand Luncheonette.

The Grand Luncheonette lived on 42nd Street for 58 years, grandly offering its greasy ambiance to the passing crowds in Times Square, proudly wrapped in shining chrome beneath the rotted marquee of the old Selwyn Theater. Mr. Hakim tried to keep the place open as a sort of living museum-like tribute to the golden age of Times Square’s hawkers, strippers and honky-tonks. But New York’s urban planners had other ideas, and after a two-year fight, he finally was evicted on Oct. 19th, 1997.

Writing about the demise of the Grand Luncheonette, a New York Daily News journalist pessimistically concluded: “This is bigger than 42nd Street, bigger even than the Disney Corp. This is about New York being colonized by The Gap and Banana Republic and Starbuck’s and all the rest. If new and improved Times Square is any indication, the standard for Italian cuisine will be the Olive Garden chain.”

Read more about the Grand Luncheonette in The New York Times here.

The nostalgic, touching documentary short film Grand Luncheonette was created by New York-based documentary filmmaker Peter Sillen.

Grand Luncheonette: Sadly, No Place Left at the Table

(Best Viewed in Full-Screen Mode with Scaling Off)

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A Ride on the Third Avenue Elevated Railway: New York Faces 1940-’50s

A Ride on the Third Avenue Elevated Railway: New York Faces 1940-’50s

New York Faces 1940-’50s is a wonderful documentary short film created by filmmaker Leo Bar, a nostalgic piece that features the many “faces” of New York City, as seen while taking a ride on the now torn down Third Avenue Elevated Railway. Many of the NYC photographs shown in the film were discovered in Chicago, taken by the reclusive Vivian Maier, who was a nanny and street photographer in New York City and Chicago from the 1950-’90s. Other photographs were sourced from the New York Public Library. The music is Hey Now performed by Red Garland, released on Red Garland Revisited! (Prestige Records, 1957).

Enjoy the railway ride as it travels through the old neighborhoods of New York City!

A Ride on the Third Avenue Elevated Railway: New York Faces 1940-’50s

Photo-Gallery: New York Faces 1940-’50s

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Jerome Liebling: A Documentary Photographer Whose Camera Captured the Human Spirit

Jerome Liebling, Butterfly Boy, New York City, 1949

Jerome Liebling, Boy and Car, New York City, 1949

Jerome Liebling, Grain Worker, Minneapolis, Minn., 1950

Jerome Liebling, Woman, Red Lake, Minnesota, 1953

Jerome Liebling, Blind Home, St Paul, Minnesota, 1963

Jerome Liebling, Outside Claridge’s Hotel, Mayfair, London, UK, 1967

Jerome Liebling: A Documentary Photographer Whose Camera Captured the Human Spirit

Jerome Liebling, a pioneering socially conscious documentary photographer and teacher for more than half a century, died on July 27th in Northampton, Mass., at the age of 87. Mr. Leibling’s subtly powerful pictures influenced a generation of socially minded photographers and documentary filmmakers.

Along with a wave of pioneering photographers who included Walker Evans, Paul Strand, Berenice Abbott, Helen Levitt and Gordon Parks, Jerome Liebling helped define the look of 20th century documentary photography. Leibling took to the streets of New York in the 1940s to make art by turning his camera onto corners of urban life that had too often been ignored by many photographers before him. He captured the lives of ordinary people on the streets of New York, including in his childhood neighborhood of Brighton Beach, as well as around the world.

Most of Mr. Liebling’s life was spent teaching. He started a photography and film department at the University of Minnesota in 1949, and taught at Hampshire College from 1970 to 1990. The school’s photography building is named in his honor. A number of of Mr. Liebling’s students became professional photographers and filmmakers, receiving Academy Awards, Emmys and Peabody awards for their work.

Liebling received numerous awards and grants, including two Guggenheim Fellowships, a National Endowment for the Arts Photographic Survey Grant, and a fellowship from the Massachusetts Council on the Arts. His photographs are in the permanent collections of many museums, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Fogg Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

Viewers can read more about the life and work of Jerome Leibling in The New York Times here.

Looking at Leibling

Political Landscape: Liebling’s Minnesota Capitol Photographs (1956-1969)

Photo-Gallery: Jerome Liebling’s Camera Captured the Human Spirit

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The Americans: A Brooklyn Summer, 1974

Danny Lyon: Turn of the Century Brownstone Apartments, Brooklyn, 1974

Danny Lyon: Life on Bond Street in Brooklyn, 1974

Danny Lyon: Boy Against Yellow Platform, Kosciusko Swimming Pool, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, 1974

Danny Lyon: Children at Reis Park, a Public Beach in Brooklyn, 1974

Danny Lyon: People Watch Boats on the East River, Manhattan Bridge and NYC in the Background, 1974

The Americans: A Brooklyn Summer, 1974

A Brooklyn Summer, 1974 is a beautiful collection of vintage photos of Brooklyn taken in the summer of 1974 by photographer Danny Lyon, and the vintage tone of these summertime photographs makes everything look so much hotter. Lyon spent two months snapping pictures of the daily life in the borough, exploring Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Green, Park Slope and other neighborhoods. Lyon captured the photographs of inner-city life while on assignment for Documerica, a project of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that hired freelance photographers to capture images relating to environmental problems, EPA activities, and everyday life in the 1970s.

Born in 1942 in Brooklyn, Danny Lyon received a BA from the University of Chicago in 1973. In the 1960s and 1970s, Lyon made a name for himself covering life in Chicago’s impoverished Uptown neighborhood and the Southern Civil Rights movement. Lyon went on to give the world three incredible works: The Bikeriders, in which he chronicled his travels as a member of the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club, The Destruction of Lower Manhattan, documenting the large-scale demolition of our country’s greatest city back in 1967, and Conversations with the Dead, in which he photographed and wrote about Texas inmates in 6 different prisons.

Lyon’s work has been frequently exhibited and collected; he is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and National Endowment for the Arts grants in both film and photography.

You can read more about Danny Lyon’s work in The New York Times here.

The Museum of Photographic Arts: A Look at Danny Lyon

Photo-Gallery: A Brooklyn Summer, 1974

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Helios: The Pioneering Photography of Eadweard Muybridge

Eadweard Muybridge, Ruins of the Church of San Domingo, Panama, 1875

Eadweard Muybridge, Ruins of a Church, Antigua, Guatemala, 1875

Eadweard Muybridge, The Ramparts, Fisherman’s Bay, South Farallon Island, 1871

Eadweard Muybridge, Lighthouse at Punta de los Reyes, Seacoast of California, 1871

Eadweard Muybridge, Bridge on the Porto Bello, Panama, 1875

Helios: The Pioneering Photography of Eadweard Muybridge

Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change is an exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), which presents the first-ever retrospective examination of all aspects of artist Eadweard Muybridge’s pioneering photography. Best known for his groundbreaking studies of animals and humans in motion, what a magnificent photographer Eadweard Muybridge was and what a brilliant eye he had is too often overlooked. In addition to his iconic studies of animals in motion, Muybridge (1830-1904) was also an innovative and successful landscape and survey photographer, documentary artist, inventor and war correspondent.

The works in this exhibition have been brought together from 38 different collections and include a number of Muybridge’s photographs of Yosemite Valley, images of Alaska and the Pacific coast, pictures from Panama and Guatemala and urban panoramas of San Francisco, most of which were published under the pseudonym “Helios.” The exhibition also includes examples from Muybridge’s experimental series of sequential stop-motion photographs, such as his masterpieces The Horse in Motion and Animal Locomotion.

Philip Glass: The Photographer, A Gentleman’s Honor (1983) to Eadweard Muybridge

Eadweard Muybridge: A Stop-Motion Animation

Photo-Gallery: Helios/The Pioneering Photography of Eadweard Muybridge

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Harvey Milk Day 2011: You’ve Got to Give Them Hope

Harvey Milk Day 2011: You’ve Got to Give Them Hope

Although California is presently the only state with an official Harvey Milk Day, cities all across the country will be holding rallies and events today to honor the first openly gay man to be elected to public office and an icon of the gay-rights movement. Milk, who would have been 81 years-old, gave us his life 32 years ago, knowing that the first of any civil rights movement, who clearly and loudly proclaim their right to equality, most often meets a violent and sudden end. Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. He fought to end discrimination against gays and lesbians and built coalitions of gay-rights groups, labor unions and small-business owners. He was 48 when he was killed a year later by a former supervisor, Dan White.

The Times of Harvey Milk, a documentary film, won the 1984 Academy Award for Documentary Feature. The movie Milk, was released in 2008, directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Sean Penn as Milk and Josh Brolin as Dan White. Milk received two Academy Awards, for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor. In August 2009, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Harvey Milk the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contribution to the gay rights movement stating, “He fought discrimination with visionary courage and conviction.”

Harvey Milk: The Candlelight Funeral Rites

A Documentary on Harvey Milk: 575 Castro St.

Harvey Milk: You’ve Got to Give Them Hope

Before there was the Academy Awards celebrated Milk, there was the widely acclaimed The Times of Harvey Milk, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature Film in 1984, and was awarded The Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, among other awards. The documentary chronicles the political career of Harvey Milk, who was San Francisco’s first openly gay elected Board Supervisor. The film, at times humorous, at times nostalgic, and at other times quite tragic, tells the story of Harvey Milk’s rise to political power and emergence as a symbol of gay political achievement.

The Times of Harvey Milk documents through assembled historic film clips the tumultuous story of Milk’s grass-roots political organizing and election, through the shocking murders and their repercussions. It takes the film’s viewers along with the eloquent candle-light memorial joined by tens of thousands of San Franciscans on the evening of the assassinations, to the scenes of angry crowds who stormed San Francisco’s City Hall in the aftermath of the lenient sentence that Dan White received at his murder trial.

This Academy Award-winning documentary feature film depicts not only Harvey Milk himself, but also the political and social milieu of the era in which he lived. From this perspective, the film continues to have significant relevance for our nation today, standing as a classic portrait of communities and cultural values in severe conflict. The film was produced subsequent to Harvey Milk’s death using archival footage, so that Milk is credited posthumously as the lead actor. Other politicians, including San Francisco’s then-mayor George Moscone (who was assassinated along with Milk) and Moscone’s successor and now United States Senator Dianne Feinstein, also appear in the archival footage. Also featured in the film is then-schoolteacher Tom Ammiano, who has been a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors since 1994, and was elected to the California State Assembly. The film’s outstanding narration is provided by the acclaimed stage and screen actor Harvey Fierstein, who at that time had just achieved great success with his own Tony Award-winning Broadway play Torch Song Trilogy.

The Times of Harvey Milk: The Full Version of the Documentary

Slide Show:The Life and Times of Harvey Milk

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Performance in Photography Since 1960: An Audience of One

Matthew Barney, Drawing Restraint 9: Shimenawa, 2005

William Pope, Foraging (The Air Itself/Dark Version), 1995

Laurel Nakadate, Lucky Tiger #151, 2009

Ai Weiwei, Study of Perspective: Eiffel Tower, 1995–2003

Performance in Photography Since 1960: An Audience of One

Staging Action: Performance in Photography Since 1960 presents a wide range of images focusing on performance art that were expressly made for the artist’s camera, which was recently on exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Performance art is usually experienced live, but what documents it and ensures its enduring life is, above all, photography. Yet photography plays a constitutive role, not merely a documentary one, when the performance is staged expressly for the camera (often in the absence of an audience), and the images that result are recordings of an event but also autonomous works of art. The pictures in this exhibition exemplify the complex and varied uses artists have devised for photography in the field of performance art since the 1960s.

Many artists have experimented with the camera to test the physical and psychological limits of the body. Other artists have enlisted the camera as an accomplice in experiments with identity, suggesting the plasticity or mutability of identity itself. They have engaged the production of the self as positional rather than fixed and often played with shifting ideas of gender and/or sexual identity. The exhibition also includes both off-the-cuff and staged performative gestures of political dissent, as well as explorations of the dualities of consumerism and dispossession.

Staging Action demonstrates the complex ways in which photography, confronting us with its ability to both freeze and extend a moment in time, pushes against the grain of mere documentation to create performance art as a conceptual exercise that can be appreciated in the absence of a performing body. Often the technology of the camera is able to open up new space for performance, isolating exhibitionist, arresting, spectacular and just plain wacky moments. For every strenuous performance in this collection that challenges physical and psychological limits, there’s also a very playful one.

Viewers can read more about this exhibition in The New York Times here.

Tono Stano’s Performance Photography: Sense

Slide Show: Performance in Photography Since 1960

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