Friday, April 17, 2015

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™

Lynn Goldsmith Streets of NYC Exhibition


Song writer, film director, prolific rock and roll photographer, multi-award winner -- all of these titles and more describe Lynn Goldsmith. For over 40 years she has been a chronicler of artists with her camera lens sharply focused on "breaking limiting thought patterns." Last night I attended a preview for her latest exhibition at the Morrison Hotel Gallery entitled "Streets of NYC" which features some of her greatest photographs from 1973 to 2013. The theme is that each of these photos was taken of a performer or performers in the case of band members, whilst pounding the pavements of our city. They were also taken without benefit of assistants including makeup and hair people and after formal studio portrait sessions, when Lynn and her subjects would walk around NYC. The exhibit is on view until May 6th and is worth seeing particularly if you are of the baby boomer generation who grew up with these icons.


Lynn Goldsmith

As I walked in to the opening cocktail party last night I immediately witnessed an all too familiar sight: a small cadre containing Ms. Goldsmith, Gallery owner Peter Blachley and others posed for the all important group selfie; stick included. I had an intense feeling of deja vu for two reasons, one being that nearly every party I attend now involves me walking in on a group selfie (shameful, I know). The other is that the last time I was in this same location was for the Frank Sinatra exhibition of photographs which included the infamous early selfie that he had taken in his bathroom mirror. Not only that but I could overhear Mr. Blachley referencing that exact story of having the Sinatra selfie hanging on the gallery wall just a few weeks ago and how it was publicized as one of the first of this now (all too) popular genre. Is that life coming full circle or what?

Steve Winwood 1982

Goldsmith, who originally hails from Detroit, earned two degrees from the University of Michigan in English and Psychology. In the early '70s she took a job at Elektra Records. She became a director for Joshua Television (the company that brings video magnification to large rock concerts) as well as the youngest member ever inducted into the Director's Guild of America. She later went to ABC's In Concert, and became of the first directors of film promotion for musical artists with Grand Funk Railroad's "We're An American Band" which led her to a job as co-manager of the band. She has written songs with numerous notables such as Sting, Steve Winwood, and Todd Rundgren. By the mid '70s she left directing and song writing to focus on her photography.

David Byrne and Talking Heads

Her photographic body of work is staggering and has been featured on and between the covers of Life, Newsweek, Time, Rolling Stone, Interview, People, Sports Illustrated, in museums, as well as on over 100 album covers; two examples are Frank Zappa's Sheik Yerbouti, and Patti Smith's Easter. She has published ten books of her works, I wish I'd had more time to read the two that were there during the show as they were fascinating:  I always love hearing the back story behind the image.


Lynn's iconic leather jacket was worn by many including Bruce Springsteen
 and Frank Zappa

Speaking of images, she debunks several of the commonly held ones about various artists, generally that they were not as wild as they would have liked the world to believe. In the case of Keith Richards though, she makes it clear that you can believe everything you've ever heard. Goldsmith says she actually passed out cold on the bathroom floor after photographing him and simply inhaling the fumes present in the room from the gigantic joint that he smoked. She details many of her ongoing relationships with the artists including Bruce Springsteen who she lived with, and discusses her use of various techniques such as props (her own studded leather jacket became an important article and eventually ended up in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a story which she details in her work "Photodiary").

Matt Dillon NYC Sunday 1981

The exhibition includes photos of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Debbie Harry, The Police, U2, Van Halen, Keith Richards, Richard Gere, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, Laurie Anderson, Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon, Keith Haring, Steve Winwood, Annie Lennox and more. The stories of how she came to photograph various celebrities, many of whom didn't really want their photos taken, makes you see how she had to use her psychology degree to get them to cooperate.


Richard Gere 1983

I'm not sure I can pick a favorite but I did overhear a guest saying he really liked the Richard Gere photo since there are two girls at the top of the stairs who are giggling at Gere and he is looking up at them, aware of the attention. In terms of iconic New York scenes, I guess I'd have to choose the one of Matt Dillon on the subway car as a shout-out to how I remember the trains of that era. I read on Lynn Goldsmith's Facebook page that it really was a struggle for her to edit the quantity of photographs for this exhibition; not at all surprising for such a prolific photographer.

Morrison Hotel Gallery is located at 116 Prince Street in Soho.




- Laurel Marcus

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