Posted by C. Rizzo
I visited the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance today to check out its current exhibit, "Northern Manhattan as Muse." Local photographer and writer Mike Fitelson has expertly constructed a survey of artists in Northern Manhattan, including examples of their work. More interesting are the interview excerpts that get at the exhibit's core--what is it about Northern Manhattan that inspires artists? The parks? The ample sky preserved by six-story buildings? The constant hum of streets clogged with immigrants and natives, vendors and vehicles? The majestic rivers that flank both sides?
All of these things and more inspire the 17 artists in this exhibit, including writers, rappers, painters, sculptors and theater directors. And, as many of the subjects point out, artists are only the latest group to flock north on the Island. For a century, Northern Manhattan has received waves of people seeking a cheaper and more humane community in a city that is not known for providing one. As Mino Lora and Bob Braswell of the People's Theater Project point out: "The rest of Manhattan is about competition, about the self... Manhattan is not about the we. Northern Manhattan understands the we." While I'm not sure that the neighborhood has earned this compliment yet, the artists in this exhibit certainly have.
The exhibit runs through February 10 and is open during "business hours" each day.
Jon Michaud, author of "When Tito Loved Clara," set in Northern Manhattan
Mino Lora and Bob Braswell, creators of the People's Theater Project
Painter Elissa Gore, inspired (frequently) by the Henry Hudson Bridge and Palisades
Natasha Beshenkovsky, immigrant, sculptor and "good" neighbor