Friday, January 18, 2008

Gus Powell

Gus Powell
Backstage at Carnegie Hall
New York, NY
June 2006

I made the long trek up to 103rd Street in the rain last night for the reception of Manhattan Noon, photographs by Gus Powell currently showing at The Museum of the City of New York. I can't help but think, "I knew Gus when ...," well, when he was a tall, gangly freshman taking photo courses at Oberlin College, and I was a disheveled sophomore who was chronically covered in paint specks and photo chemicals, a look described by another former Oberlin art major as an "apocalyptic gas station attendant."

Now here we are, both New Yorkers. And while I am still more or less a gas station attendant, Gus is one of the savviest of New Yorkers whom I know. In fact, you can frequently find his photographs in the GOINGS ON ABOUT TOWN section of The New Yorker. And Manhattan Noon, shot in the tradition of Gary Winogrand and inspired by the poems of Frank O'Hara, is full of smart, quick, ironic, funny and poetic observations about New Yorkers at lunchtime.

I shot the photograph of Gus hovering above backstage after Rufus Wainwright's concert at Carnegie Hall in June 2006. Gus was actually hired to shoot the event, and I was roaming around with my new digital camera playing paparazzi and gawking at the likes of Antony from Antony and the Johnsons. Watching Gus work, I grew convinced that part of what makes him such a great photographer is his long arms and the way one can handle a flash and the other can operate a camera. It was a though he were an acrobat, or a mime, or something marvelous that he might chance upon during one of his midday strolls.

To see Gus's photos for yourself, check out:

Manhattan Noon
Photographs by Gus Powell
Thru March 16
The Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Ave. @ 103rd Street

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