For the last 15 years, married authors and photographers, James and Karla Murray have been documenting the streets of New York and Miami, publishing three best-selling books on the graffiti scene, Miami Graffiti (Prestel Publishing 2009), Broken Windows (Gingko Press 2002) and Burning New York (Gingko Press 2006). While photographing graffiti, they also began faithfully documenting the generations-old stores and shops of New York’s neighborhoods, resulting in their critically acclaimed book, STORE FRONT-The Disappearing Face of New York released by Gingko Press in 2009. James and Karla live in New York City and Miami with their dog, Tabasco.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Please join us in East Hampton July 25th. Our STORE FRONT show opens 10 days earlier at the CLIC Gallery Soho (Center at Broome Streets) July 15th.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Store fronts in New York: Baby Watson cheesecake and kosher chewing gum
Soon James and Karla Murray’s vivid collection of photographs may be all that remains of New York’s colourful and distinctive shopfronts.
Notorious for its slogan “Good ale, raw onions, and no ladies” McSorley’s Ale House was the last bar in New York to admit only men. A lawsuit brought against the owner in the Seventies put paid to that and resulted in McSorley’s law, which prohibits sex discrimination in public accommodation.
Now more than 150 years old, the bar still has the same taps, wooden bar and pot-bellied stove as when it opened in 1854, and serves only two kinds of beer – McSorley’s own light and dark.
This is just one of the wonderful narratives to be found in James and Karla Murray’s book Store Front, a photographic tribute to one of the most cherished yet endangered fixtures of New York’s streets, the “mom and pop shop”.
The Murrays have spent more than 10 years recording these idiosyncratic family-run establishments and the traders who animated their interiors. But since they started the project, almost half the shops they’ve photographed have shut down, victims of the economic slump, or ever stricter regulations.
Handed down through generations – “All my three children have worked in the store pushing pastry until they were ready to marry,” says Lilian Fable of Poseidon Greek Bakery in Hell’s Kitchen – and acting as anchors for the sea of cultures that floods around them, the stores are an extraordinary repository of craftsmanship. “We’re the only shop in the USA that still makes filo pastry by hand,” says Fable. “It takes two people eight or nine hours, every day.”
A Staten Island purveyor of pasta sells 30 different stuffings of ravioli; the Lemon Ice King of Corona in Queens, 30 flavours of icecream. “I basically added one every year,” says owner Peter Benfaremo. “I dreamt them up at night when I couldn’t sleep.”
The Murrays are still engaged in their race against time, adding daily to their bank of pictures. They’ve recorded nearly 700 stores so far. From fur and fishing tackle to the Baby Watson Cheesecake and kosher chewing gum, their photographic survey offers vivid and intimate insights into the life of one of the world’s great cities.
It’s also surprisingly moving. My favourite is the Rainbow café on 5th Avenue, named by the original owner for his Wizard of Oz-loving daughter in the apartment above, so she could live Somewhere Over it.
* ‘Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York’ by James and Karla Murray [Ginko Press, £55] is out now.