Summer Seeing: 10 Must-See Photos in August

As mentioned in the first installment of this summer series, I am joining Baxter St at CCNY to present a monthly selection of not-to-be missed photographs in New York City.

This month’s photographs are showing in the Bowery, Chelsea, the Upper East Side, and in two shows that can be seen on the same day: one in Staten Island and another near the Staten Island ferry at Bowling Green. Some works are in shows closing by the end of this week, do not wait an extra minute to view them in person.
Enjoy the second of three installments this summer!



Willa Nasatir, Green #1, 2015. Courtesy Company Gallery.
Currently showing in the “Close to the Skin” group show at Company Gallery.
Closes August 8

One of the most beguiling works on view this summer.



Benny Merris, An Other Another 76, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist and Murray Guy New York.
Currently showing in the group show “The Secret Life” at Murray Guy.
Closes August 7

Merris has two works of gorgeous colour on view at the ever tasteful Murray Guy, but this one humorously and bluntly interjects photographic space with the gesture of painting.



Alice Austen, The Grounds at Clear Comfort, ca.1900s.
Currently showing in the show “Becoming Clear Comfort: History of a Landmark” at the Alice Austen House.
Closes August 30

Clear Comfort, the home where photography pioneer Alice Austen lived for 78 years contains an exquisite archive of early street photography, unique New York photographs, and of course, Austen’s social circle. In a show celebrating the 30th anniversary of Austen’s private home becoming a public museum, this photograph shows the grounds of Clear Comfort relatively unchanged, the expansive and remote characteristics Austen valued in Clear Comfort. Renwick, the well-known New York architect, was responsible for one of its additions. An affluent woman breaking gender roles at the turn of the century, Austen would have passed away penniless in a shelter had it not been for the rediscovery of her work.



Abelardo Morell, Upright Camera Obscura: The Piazzetta San Marco Looking Southeast in Office, Venice, 2007
Currently in the summer group show at Edwynn Houk.
Closes August 14

It may seem ineffectual to look at photographs taken within a camera obscura when the joy of the camera obscura is in rendering photography as a full-body experience. In looking at photographs such as these, in a flattened format, we face the the other optical qualities that in real-time our eyes can’t keep up with, or detect.


Glenn O’Brien, TV Party. Video Installation
Currently in “The Last Party” at WhiteBox.
Closing August 23

A fantastic archive of the Lower East Side’s creative scene from the late 70s to the 90s, “The Last Party” is an oasis of rebellion and individuality in an otherwise and regretfully gentrified neighborhood. Glenn O’Brien’s public access video is one of the many gems of the show, but important to review and enjoy its charisma and spontaneity in an era of visual quickies.


Leslie Hewitt, Untitled (Geographic Delay), 2009. Image courtesy Yancey Richardson.
Currently showing in the group show “A Room of One’s Own” at Yancey Richardson.
Closes August 21

Taking its cue from the unset energy that artists’ studios contain, Hewitt’s arrangement plays with media histories as a subject for arrangement.



Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Self-Portrait Study with Two Figures (1506), 2015.
Currently showing in the group show “A Room of One’s Own” at Yancey Richardson.
Closes August 21

Working with the “studio portrait as a site of exchange,” Sepuya’s photograph is a dynamic take on the accumulation of angles that form a self.



Meryl McMaster, Meryl 3, 2010.
Currently showing at The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.
Closing December 11, 2015

Why wait until the last possible day? Close to the Staten Island ferry, this is the perfect show to see after spending a good portion of the day at the Alice Austen House. What Countess Castiglioni did with the idea of the frame in photography, McMaster revisits with an approach that is all construction and modular.


Ladislav Postupa_HowardGreenberg

Ladislav Postupa, Untitled, 1968.
Currently showing in the “Land Lines” group show at Howard Greenberg.
Closes September 4

From the little that I know and have seen of this photographer’s work over the years, this photograph is unusual for Postupa because of its stark composition and blunt lack of pathos. And yet, for the time in which it was taken, and in the context of photography, I find it just riveting that it references, either consciously or unconsciously, the mechanism of portable bellows, and relationships of distance and weight in the tools of photography.


Stephen Somerstein, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Looks out at crowd in Montgomery, 1965.
Currently showing in “Freedom Journey 1965: Photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March by Stephen Somerstein” at the New York Historical Society Museum.
Closes October 25

Days away from the one year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, we know that 683 individuals have been killed by police in the first 7 months of 2015. Discussing and evaluating the varying levels of embedded racism has always been relevant, and now more than ever. Despite video evidence to the contrary, Brown’s actions remain described as robbery (rather than shoplifting). Trayvon Martin’s death led to the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement, Eric Garner magnified the importance and risks of citizen media, and social justice organizers honoring Michael Brown didn’t take either of those social tools for granted. Citizen-driven still images and smartphone-generated videos have played a crucial role in the discussion of each of these cases. Somerstein’s photograph was made with the same urgency and similar level of access in a time of critical upheaval—one of many points of heritage for the digital media shaping today’s dialogue on racial and social disparity.




Alice Austen House: 2 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10305
The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian: Broadway, New York, NY 10274
WhiteBox: 329 Broome St #1, New York, NY 10002
Company Gallery: 88 Eldridge Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10002
Murray Guy: 453 W 17th St # 3SW, New York, NY 10011
Yancey Richardson: 525 W 22nd St, New York, NY 10011
Edwynn Houk: 745 5th Ave #407, New York, NY 10151
Howard Greenberg: 41 E 57th St Suite 1406, New York, NY 10022
New York Historical Society Museum: 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024