Thursday, August 31, 2006

Riverside Drive, July 2006

A summery planting at the entrance to the Peter Stuyvesant apartment building, at 98th Street and Riverside.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Meatpacking District, June 2006

Another artwork by Elbow-Toe, on Gansevoort Street near the West Side Highway. (For more about the street artist Elbow-Toe, click here.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Greenwich Village, June 2006

A slightly scary montage of '60s singers on W. 3rd Street, with the Beatles front and center. Looks like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison are all there - and who are those guys on the bottom? The Stones?

Monday, August 28, 2006

East Village, June 2006

These doors, on either side of a pub on Avenue B near Houston Street, appear to be the work of Chico.

The Empire State Building seems a bit squat, but the jaunty angle is nice. I like the Brooklyn Bridge, above, and the stars add a nice touch.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

TriBeCa, June 2006

The tile-and-terrazzo entrance to the State Insurance Fund building meets the sidewalk, on Church Street.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Eighth Avenue, June 2006

Without question the best new large building in New York in recent years, the Hearst Tower by Norman Foster cuts a jagged figure in the sky. (In London, Foster is responsible for the amazing Swiss Re building, also known as "the gherkin," and many others.)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Yorkville, June 2006

Sometimes advertisements and architecture come together in unusual ways. Here on E. 93rd Street, I liked the contrast between the very modern ad, for the movie "A Scanner Darkly," and the old cast-iron ornamentation on the left.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

E. 26th Street, June 2006

These carp swim in an eternal circle on the landing of a set of steps leading down to a tattoo parlor. When I took the photo, a rather fearsome looking guy with lots of tattoos asked me if I needed help. I assured him I didn't.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Upper West Side, July 2006

I believe this was on 103rd Street just west of Amsterdam Avenue. Looks a bit confused, doesn't he?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, June 2006

Sometimes, several random pieces of adjacent buildings come together in a way that seems perfectly color-coordinated.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Chelsea, July 2006

This wall, on W. 27th Street near the West Side Highway, is a photographer's dream!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dead bicycle, W. 28th Street, 2006

I took this a day or two after our big mid-February blizzard. I was walking home from the subway after being out of town and thought it was kind of amusing that this bike had been buried in the snow.

Problem is, a few weeks later, the bike was still there. It never really moved again, except to dwindle away piece by piece. By June, it looked like this:

Apparently, I had stumbled onto one of New York's many abandoned bicycles. Rusty and forgotten, they remain locked to signs, bike racks, and other immobile objects for all eternity. Unless someone intervenes.

In mid-July, I decided to do something about this bicycle. I had no idea who to call, so I called 311, the city's all-purpose service line. The helpful but somewhat confused operator eventually decided to report my dead bicycle to the local police precinct as a "quality of life issue." I figured nothing would ever come of it.

But then, on Monday, this is all that was left:

Who says the city isn't responsive? OK, so it might not have been my call that made the difference. But we'll never know, will we?

(For an entire photo gallery of abandoned bicycles, courtesy of Joe Schumacher, click here.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Upper West Side, July 2006

The West Park Presbyterian Church at Amsterdam Avenue and 86th Street was surrounded by a scaffold when I walked by last month. The scaffold created interesting shadows on the front door.

The church itself is from about 1890. My AIA guide calls it "dour brownstone Romanesque Revival," but adds that it's "one of the West Side's loveliest landmarks."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Financial District, July 2006

In a small park at the south end of Greenwich Street, near the entrance to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, are a cluster of huge red flowerpots. I liked their mottled surfaces, especially when streaked with shadows from the red flowers.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Fifth Avenue, July 2006

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the handrails on the front steps are lit from within. On rainy days, the white light shines down on the wet granite and creates a soft glow.

Thoughts on Blogging

As my blog approaches its 100th posting (we're at 88 now), I've been reflecting on the blogging experience. So far, it's been interesting, frustrating, discouraging and promising. It's caused me to rethink some expectations. It's also been a lot of fun. 
I started "Shadows and Light" to express my interests in Zen Buddhism and the Zen aesthetic (if there is such a thing) through photography. I wanted to show the ever-changing nature of the city. And I wanted to do it very simply, so readers could pull up the page, get a quick visual with a few lines of text, and then go on about their day. 
I wanted the blog to move slowly, with just one posting per day. I wanted serene, largely people-free images and a very spare template. I didn't plan to write much - let's face it, the Web is already full of an unmanageable quantity of text. 
I anticipated blogging mostly for my friends and family, to keep them updated on my activities here in the city, and to show them what's caught my eye. 
Three months later, what I imagined isn’t quite what's come to pass. From what I can tell, most of my family pretty much shrugged off this project. Maybe they’re too busy - like my brother, who has a new baby - but my inner child still complains.
I do, however, have regular readers, and for that I'm grateful. My site meter shows the number of daily hits I get and where they originate. I can't tell specifically who's visiting, but sometimes I can guess based on their city of origin. A lot of visitors I don't know at all. 
I get about two dozen hits on a good day. Technorati ranks my blog 711,398, which I suppose means there are 711,397 more popular than mine. I guess I can live with that!
I’m also writing a little more than I'd originally planned, to keep the blog from being too impersonal.
So, how do I rate this experience? 
Well, frankly, I’m disappointed in my family’s reaction. It’s not what I expected. (Ann Landers would tell me to seek counseling.) 
But otherwise, I feel good about the blog. I like the fact that some people out there have noticed me and come back from time to time to see what I've been up to. I have made a couple of "blog friends" here, whose own work I enjoy and whose comments I appreciate.
What I do isn't for everyone. This minimalist approach must seem bland and frustrating to people who look for blogs with multiple entries and updates every day. (It's hard to post only once a day. I have to restrain myself!) 
But I want it to move slowly. We all move too fast anyway. 
So whether you're just here for one visit, or you come back again: Thanks for reading. I'm glad you're out there.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

E. 29th Street, June 2006

This is what I see when I emerge from my building every morning - the back wall of the Church of Our Lady of the Scapular and St. Stephen, on E. 28th Street. There's a design principle that says odd numbers of things are more visually interesting than even numbers, and I think of that when I see this wall. It looks so much better with three windows than it would with two or four!

The buzz in the blogosphere now is this map from New York magazine, showing the homes of all the celebrities in Manhattan. It's interesting to see that apparently I live in the Valley of the Unknowns. There are no celebs in any direction for blocks!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Central Park, July 2006

Well, after all that Pepto-Bismol pink in yesterday's post, I feel like I need some nature! So here we are, back in Central Park.

These were taken in The Ramble, the big wooded area in the middle of the park, where I went walking with my friends Rich and Luis a couple of weeks ago. The Ramble is mostly wilderness, and in places you can't see buildings or hear traffic. You'd never know you're in the middle of Manhattan.

A friend of mine once remarked that Manhattan would be unliveable without Central Park. It's funny - I sometimes go weeks without setting foot there. But just knowing it exists - an 840-acre rectangle of trees, squirrels, birds, lakes and even a rare coyote or wild turkey - makes a big difference.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Murray Hill, August 2006

These construction bins from Tiffany Carting were in front of a building under renovation on Madison Avenue near 33rd Street. Somehow it seems funny that hulking metal construction bins would be labeled "Tiffany" and painted pink.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

East Village, August 2006

My fellow photoblogger MrC pointed out here that sunflowers are a popular summer subject. So here's my New York sunflower, from the wall of a day spa at 12th Street and 2nd Ave.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Upper East Side, August 2006

Here’s the International-Style interior of Cinema 1,2&3, an almost certainly endangered movie theater on Third Avenue near Bloomingdale’s.

This is an interesting little theater, with original artwork and sculptures on the walls and a distinctly art-house air, despite the mass-market films it now screens. Still, preservationists say it’s a shadow of its former self.

When built in 1962, its then-duplex format was a new style, and it included an original mural, Danish copper light fixtures and a bright blue tiled exterior. Those are gone now, but a few artworks remain.

There have been recurrent reports that the theater is closing, but so far it hasn’t happened. I saw “The Night Listener” there on Saturday. (The theater was more interesting than the movie.)

It seems inevitable that Cinema 1,2&3 will join the Baronet-Coronet, the Sutton and the Beekman, all great old theaters within a radius of a few blocks to be demolished within the last five years.

Click here to see the cinema in its glory days, courtesy of the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Botanical Garden, Bronx, August 2006

Rob and I went to see the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden on Saturday. Chihuly, a glass blower, produces wild sculptures that certainly seem botanically inspired. The one above, called "Sun," is erected over an outdoor fountain. Below, floats are scattered in the garden's lily ponds and tremendous sculptures are suspended in the greenhouses.

I like the way the glass creations relate to the gardens. The ones above, for example, look like barrel cacti growing amid other desert plants.

All in all, it's a great show. Certainly lots of fodder for photographers!

Sunday, August 6, 2006

W. 47th Street, February 2006

These silly balloons were bouncing in the breeze outside a restaurant, carrying on the color scheme of the wall.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Chinatown, May 2006

These pipes on Hester Street are the picture, and also the frame.

For another blogger's take on interesting pipes, click here.

Friday, August 4, 2006

Chelsea, July 2006

This sidewalk art is on W. 24th Street just beyond 10th Avenue. It's near an industrial or construction site, and when I first saw it, it was covered with sand and debris. I came back a few days later with a broom, swept it off and took the photo.

Is it signed Paul Richard, or is it a portrait of Paul Richard?

UPDATE: Through the magic of Google, I answered my own question. Click here. Look especially at "works on paper."

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY, July 2006

The Storm King Theater is a great old movie house, now occupied by a restaurant. It took its name from a nearby mountain.

A rounded front wall gives the building a deco look. The corner entranceway has a colorfully banded ceiling (above) and a beautiful terrazzo floor.

There's also a nice decorative cornice at the top of the exterior wall.

I tried to look up some information about this theater, such as when it was built, when it closed, and who designed it, but I had no luck. If anyone knows, drop me a comment!

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY, July 2006

Back now from my brief trip to Cornwall, in the Hudson Valley, where I go with my Zen group for an annual retreat. This year I signed up for a fairly rigorous one: up at 4:20 a.m., then meditation throughout the day, interspersed with services, exercise and work. Meals were in the formal ritual style, with small portions of excellent, fresh vegetarian food. We kept silent as much as possible.

There's a real beauty in living communally, even under trying (and hot!) circumstances. The challenging practice brings you face-to-face with your own mind: its tricks, its deceptions, all the roiling emotions you feel when under pressure.

I took this photo during one of our exercise periods, when I walked through the village. (We were told to avoid technology, but I made a brief exception for my digital camera!) I loved the facade of this apartment building, with its graceful symmetry.

E. 29th Street, July 2006

Here's a bonus posting, since I've been away. This sign, in a second-floor window above a Chinese restaurant near my apartment, is a prediction in itself!