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Curated Shows: Brooklyn Back In The Day




Brooklyn Back in the Day

The Henry Gregg Gallery is proud to present “Brooklyn Back in the Day,” an exhibition of documentary photographs by six important photographers whose careers began and first flourished in Brooklyn.

The exhibition features work by Anthony Almeida, Peter Sumner Walton Bellamy, Peter Essick, Tony Velez, Charles Denson, and Tom Callan.

“Brooklyn Back in The Day” is a wide-ranging exhibition which forms a composite portrait of Brooklyn and its neighborhoods from the 70s through the 90s and moves easily from early work by Peter Essick, then preparing a graduate thesis, and who since has completed over 30 features for National Geographic, to those of Charles Denson, a lifelong resident of Coney Island whose documentary photography culminated in the book, “Coney Island Lost and Found.”

While much of the photographs on exhibition have not been shown in decades, they constitute an important and even an unprecedented collective document of growth and change.

One story is telling: prior to his participation, Peter Sumner Walton Bellamy, author of 'The Artist Project" and "Artist Damn", kept his early work in storage where they were rediscovered for the exhibition in a dozen boxes of large format negatives. Back in the 1970s, Peter roamed the streets of Brooklyn shooting portraits on a 4x5 view camera and sending prints to his subjects as thanks, so creating a body of work that captures a side of Brooklyn so often romanticized, but rarely seen in the unsentimental light of Peter’s lively and wonderful photographs.

Anthony Almeida spent over thirty years as a high school photography teacher at Prospect Heights High School. During that time he photographed the surrounding Crown Heights neighborhood documenting its diversity and vibrancy. Presently Anthony is engaged in his Everglades global warming project and fine art photography.

Tony Velez is a photography professor at Keen University in New Jersey. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and New York Foundation for the Arts, his work documents the growth of the Hispanic population in Brooklyn.

Tom Callan has spent the better part of thirty years working as a staff photographer for the Brooklyn Paper. The exhibition’s two curators represent divergent but complimentary approaches to the present photographic work.

André Martínez Reed, an artist, photographer, musician and owner of the Henry Gregg Gallery , is a Brooklyn native who brings to the exhibition a particular and enriching sense of place and time.
Joshua Wolfe, a native of Washington, D.C. who moved in 2001 to Brooklyn to pursue a career in photography.

Thus, Andre sees the world represented in these photographs through the prism of his childhood and growing up, while Joshua seeks to showcase a group of Brooklyn photographers whose career path resembles the one on which he now embarks.

Peter Sumner Walton Bellamy Peter Sumner Walton Bellamy, a portrait photographer, refined his artistic craft under such greats as Orson Welles, Elliott Erwitt, Arnold Newman and Louise Bourgeois. His work is published, exhibited and collected worldwide. He is a graduate of Pratt Institute and lives in Brooklyn, NY. He has published two photography books: The Artist Project (Portraits of the Real Art World ; New York Artist 1981-1990) and "Addict's Damn . Two additional book projects are in progress: a collection of contemporary American playwright portraits and a study in black and white wilderness photography. Between 1976 and 1979 he shot portraits in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island neighborhoods, including Bensonhurst, South Brooklyn and Greenpoint. These black and white photographs were taken with a view camera.

Peter Essick Peter Essick grew up in Burbank, California and learned the basics of photography from his father. In 1985, Peter enrolled in the photojournalism program at the University of Missouri. That year he was selected as a photo intern at the National Geographic Society and completed a story for the magazine that summer. After earning his graduate degree in photojournalism, Peter began working as a freelance photojournalist. He relocated to Brooklyn, New York and worked for the African-American newspaper, The City Sun, from 1989-1991. For the last 10 years he has lived in Atlanta, Georgia, still working as a freelance photojournalist. Peter's by-line has been in National Geographic magazine more than 30 times for stories from around the world as well as in many other international magazines. He has travelled to all seven continents and all of the 50 United States in search of compelling pictures. In recent years, he has specialized in stories about nature and the environment. He has illustrated stories on global warming, the carbon cycle, the global freshwater crisis and nuclear waste.

Anthony Almeida Anthony Almeida's photographic work was in many ways fueled by his childhood experiences in Brazil, his father's homeland. When he arrived there at the age of six, he was confronted by family, friends, and outsiders who derived from different racial, religious, and cultural groups. Despite initial bewilderment, he quickly felt quite comfortable. Their "differences" seemed to present few barriers. "I just remember having good feelings about people who looked different. I try to draw from those feelings of connectedness when I approach my photography and my life." Anthony is a fine arts photographer, educator and photo-documentarian, who studied with Lisette Modell. He spent many years teaching English and photography in a high school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. His photographic work is extremely diversified, and he has been the recipient of numerous awards. His work has been shown in national and international shows, and is in private, personal and educational collections. More recently he has devoted most of his creative energy to his documentary and fine art photography. One of Anthony's greatest photographic passions is "street photography," and he described the street to be "the greatest stage of all, wherein position, juxtaposition and sensitivity sometimes conspire to make the fleeting moment eternal."

Tony Velez Tony Velez has been photographing for more than 40 years. Velez was born in the South Bronx in 1946, the first of three brothers to Puerto Rican Immigrants. In 1954 his family moved to the Cyprus Hills Public Housing Project in Brooklyn's East New York community, and lived there until he volunteered for the U.S. Army in 1966. He served in Viet Nam (1966-67) with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. A graduate of the High School of Art and Design (1964), he has a B.A. (1976) and MFA (1981) from Brooklyn College, where he studied photography with Walter Rosenblum and Barney Cole. He is a professor in the Fine Arts Department the last 21 years at Kean University, New Jersey. He resided in New York City, Brooklyn until the fall of 2007 The recipient of numerous awards include a New York State Creative Arts Program in Service fellowship in 1983, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 1984, and a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in 1990. He has also been awarded numerous grants and commissions that include; the Brooklyn Historical Society for their "Brooklyn Hispanic Communities Documentary Project in 1988; the New Jersey Historical Commission in 1990 for his own work on Latino New Jersey; the Fund for the Borough of Brooklyn now BRIC for "This is Brooklyn: It's Historical Districts and Landmarks" in 1990; and several New Jersey Historical Society projects, "Urban Oasis: Newark's Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in 1994, and their "Caribbean Folk Artists" project in 1995, "Dining In/Dining Out" in 1998. Most recently Rutgers commissioned him in 2004 to create a new body of work on religious communities for their "New Jersey Transcultural Project". Velez's earliest experiences of violence in his home, in the streets of the city, and the war in Viet Nam have shaped his vision as an artist and photographer. A war veteran at twenty years old, he slowly developed an attitude of resistance and became an activist against the war, as he saw his younger brothers, family members, and friends go off to war. Some did not come back; some came back hurt. Philosophically and emotionally his work is an expression of his ongoing struggle that attempts to separate with his past. His earlier political activism and his optimism have helped him with his own anger as he expresses a humanist point of view that rejects the racism, and brutality of our society, and seeks a more dignified view of our world in his work. Currently Velez is working on a new project with the East Harlem based group Community Voices Heard. Photographs from his Vietnam series (1966 - 1970) can be viewed along with oral history in the exhibit "In Their Own Words; Portraits of Brooklyn Vietnam Veterans" at the Brooklyn Historical Society. He will be panelist there on June 11.

Tom Callan "Street Photography" is how Brooklyn Heights photographer Tom Callan describes his work. Before moving to New York, Tom studied with Fred Ritchin, former editor of the New York Times Magazine, at the Maine Photographic Workshop. His photos have appeared on the front page of the New York Times as well as the New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Village Voice, Spy Magazine, and many other publications. A native of Massachusetts, Tom worked as a stringer for United Press International and the Associated Press. He graduated in 1974 from Boston State College with a degree in Political Science. Tom's photos regularly appear in Brooklyn Paper Publications.

Charles Denson Charles Denson is the author of the award-winning book, Coney Island: Lost and Found,and director of the Coney Island History Project, a nonprofit oral history organization that sponsors exhibits, organizes lectures and performances, and involves the community in preserving and appreciating Coney Island's past. Denson studied photography at the School of Visual Arts. He grew up in Coney Island and has documented the neighborhood since 1965. Recent photography exhibits include "Coney Island Dreamers," Main Library, Grand Army Plaza, 2006, and "Secrets of Coney Island Creek," Brooklyn College Archives and Special Collections, 2007.

Cornell Capa often stated that a photographer who was passionately dedicated to doing work that contributed to the understanding and well-being of humanity and who produced "images in which genuine human feeling predominates over commercial cynicism or disinterested formalism," is the work of " The Concerned Photographer ".

We dedicate this show in his memory.
























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