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71 BLOCKS

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42ND STREET, 28 x 14 in / 71 x 35 cm

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It's New York City post 9/11 and in its pre-teens after the millennium. It's been shaped by three terms of Mayor/businessman Mike Bloomberg.

Foreign capital is flooding the city like never before. The Chinese bought The Waldorf Astoria, the Saudis the Chrysler Building, and the Russians Trump Tower. Wall Street is marching on as if the collapse of 2008 never happened. The government is pumping 85 billion dollars into the US economy every month while cheering its "recovery."The attempt to ban monster-sized sugary beverage bottles from being sold throughout the city to counter obesity was rejected by Supreme Court. 

This is where my story takes place. I'm an artist from Germany, a place that felt dominated by screw factories and filing cabinets In New York, I was finally living somewhere that felt less regulated and was bursting with energy. In one word, I felt home. 

 

So, everything should have been great…if my girlfriend hadn't dumped me six months prior. 

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UNDER THE HAMMER, 28 x 11 in / 71 x 28 cm

Everyone in New York has a purpose. Whether they want to make money on Wall Street, or they want to be an artist, or whatever their dream, they have a definite goal and are willing to make sacrifices to get it. 

The city is expensive, it's loud and it's dirty. People don’t live in New York unless they really want to, and there is something about that determination, that energy, that gets you. All sorts of different, driven people feeding off each other, creating this magic New York City vibe.

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JAY WALKERS, 12 x 16.5 in / 29 x 42 cm

The Native Americans called it “Manna-hata-Island of Many Hills where our people will live happily ever after forever.” 

​In 1625, a group of Dutch businessmen came along and claimed it for a handful of bric-a-brac and renamed it New Amsterdam. Forty years later, the British arrived, waving guns, taking over, and changing the name to New York. Poets and superheroes sometimes call it Gotham, musicians in the 20’s referred to it as “The Big Apple,” and the United States Postal Services’ stamp officially states New York, New York. ​The locals charmingly call it Nooyowk. People of the future will call the island “ManRATtan” after a harrowing loss in the Great Rat Battle of 2032. For those who are seeking adventure and don't fear sailing on unsure waters, the nautical coordinates are: 40˚42”46’ North, 74˚00”21’ West. 

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LEXINGTON & 125th STREET, 19 x 13 in / 47 x 33 cm

It was one of those long, steamy New York City summers. Outside, you’d melt from the smothering heat, while inside a building, bus, or subway, you’d be flash-frozen by the overpowering AC. That is, if the AC was working. If not, you’d melt indoors, too.

 

The mailmen were wearing their official USPS summer dress code—plastic safari helmets and shorts, to prevent the employees from getting heat stroke.​​ The trash in the streets was starting to smell. The soundtrack of honking horns, sirens, and steam hammers was enriched by the high-pitched xylophone jingle of ice cream trucks that roamed the urban jungle, on the hunt for sugar-craving creatures, like myself.

There had been an unusual amount of new and fresh- looking publications about the city. Not that my book-to-be had any big chance of finding a publisher anyway, but seeing this sudden “title” wave of beautiful books hitting the shelves made me question if I wanted to join something that had been done to death, brought back to life, and then done to death again.

It seemed like every coffee table in the world already had a NYC picture book, so what was I to do?

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FASHION STRIP 57th STREET, 44 x 16 in / 120 x 40 cm

Our “quick tea” went on for two hours, but felt less than ten minutes. Zoe did most of the talking, which I didn’t mind. I loved her positive energy. She had just quit her depressing day job as a divorce lawyer and was now a certified yoga teacher.

She flooded me with a tsunami of insights into the deeper aspects of yoga; how the posture is an expression of the breath, and hippie stuff like that. She raved about spiritual and physical universes and how they’re all connected. I gave up trying to understand, but it didn’t matter. I was enraptured by the sound of her voice and the way she gesticulated to underscore the meaning of her words..

Sometimes she would stray off topic and I’d get a peek into her past life: born and raised in a small town in Kansas, cat-lover, allergic to “ignorant people,” knew how to handle horses and guns, moved to the city 12 years prior, and despite hating the long and cold winters, would rather die than leave Manhattan.

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71 BLOCKS, Exhibition:

50 images, printed on fine art paper, mounted on individual boards, signed and numbered: Ranging from  42 x 96 in / 107 x 177 cm to  8.5 x 11 in / 21 x 28 cm

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