New York

Ed Fausty, Brian Rose

Henry Street Settlement

The warm weather always seems to bring out the street photographers, not only on the street, but in the galleries. There are many good ones in shows this year. They range from a couple of kids just starting with that oldest of photographic instruments, the plate camera, to a couple of old-timers who began 50 years ago with what was then the newest gadget, the hand camera.

The two young photographers, Ed Fausty and Brian Rose, work as a team. They are good, really good. The marvelous thing about their work is that they wield their four-by-five-inch camera, with color-sheet film, as facilely as if it were a hand camera. Their work is a documentation of the Lower East Side, an area they know well, and their pictures show an eye for detail and sense of space that come only from an intimate knowledge of a subject. But the pictures are not just documentation. The plate camera’s relentless sharpness, for instance, serves more than a documentary purpose. In a picture of Tompkins Square Park, while every bare branch and twig is articulated against the sky, the foreground is full of shadows of branches that are muzzy with the discrepancy between umbra and penumbra in winter light. The shadows fill an everyday scene with mystery, diffusing an esthetic through the documentation.

Again, though, it is the liveliness of these pictures, the bold way that the photographers have taken on whole streets full of people, that is most striking. A picture shot through the plate-glass windows of a corner store has figures trapped in the darts of reflection, shadow, and light created by the glass. A tenement facade photographed at night has wispy vignettes going on in its windows. A ball game on East Fourth Street is played beneath an Astrodome of fluttering streamers strung between the lamp posts. My favorite pictures are a sequence of photographs taken a few minutes apart in the midday bustle of Delancey Street. We can tell about the timing because the photographers have framed one of those signs that has a digital clock on it in the upper left corner. So placed, it mocks the time readout we always get on the TV screen as the space shuttle is launched or the Super Bowl winds down to its final seconds.

Colin Westerbeck