By Sherry Mazzocchi, Manhattan Times News, November 12, 2022
Northern Manhattan is ready for its closeup.
#TheGramUptown Virtual/Visceral is a new show, featuring the work of 60 local amateur and professional photographers, that captures Uptown’s grit, grace and glamour.
The exhibit, sourced entirely on Instagram, is a collaboration between the Uptown Collective and Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA). It opened at NoMAA’s gallery at the United Palace on November 3rd.
Led Black, founder of the Uptown Collective, created the hashtag #GramUptown and put out the call on social media for photographers to submit their images. He received nearly 2,000 submissions. He, along with NoMAA’s Niria E. Leyva-Gutiérrez and Michelle Orsi Gordon, winnowed that down to 141 photos for the show.
While show is organized around themes, there is one thing that ties the show together.
“There’s a kind of love that you see in every picture, there’s a love of Uptown,” said Black. “I think that’s common in every single picture in the showroom.”
The images have almost a hyper realistic look once transformed from screen to printed image. “These pigment prints are just saturated and alive, and some of them seem like they are impossible,” said Orsi Gordon, NoMAA’s Executive Coordinator. “They are magical.”
“What thrilled me was the abundance of great energy and vibrancy that is just on the streets, in the stores, in the buildings, all of the time,” said Leyva-Gutiérrez, NoMAA’s executive director. I think we all know that, but when you see it, and you see these images coming in one, after another, after another, it really is a beautiful feeling — to feel that abundance of energy, commitment and talent, and the power of observation when people are just taking in the world around them.”
The photos are intimate and expansive. Famous landmarks such as the George Washington Bridge, the Little Red Lighthouse and the United Palace get their star turns. Fleeting moments of uptown life are also found—Michael Palma Mir’s hawk, named Lilly, landing on his windowsill, or the perfect mirror image of the 10th Avenue viaduct by Eric K. Washington. Sofia Torres Prida captured a quiet moment at the Dominican Day Parade. BodegaCat AKA Michael Lebrón found a quintessential Washington Heights moment, entitled Fresh to Death, of a sidewalk barber on 190th and St. Nicholas cutting hair as his seated customer dines out of a Styrofoam container.
Some of Jeffrey DotShotIt Batista’s photos are of piragüeros. Menso Morel sold shaved ice in front of the Chase bank on 181st St. every summer for the past 20 years. He was part of DotShotIt’s extended family.
Morel passed away in the fall of 2021 from cancer, and the photo was taken just a few months before. “He was very noble. He was about his community, and he was a family man,” DotShotIt said. “It’s really nice to honor him.”
“This is really a love letter to Upper Manhattan,” said Leyva-Gutiérrez. “You recognize that some are your neighbors, landmarks, and issues that unfold daily. It’s really a wonderful way to coalesce around our wonderful neighborhood.”
NoMAA will host an artist talk Thursday, December 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. They will announce more information about purchasing prints as well as information about a 2023 calendar, proceeds which will benefit both the artists and NoMAA. The show is on view until Jan. 14, 2023.
For more information, please visit www.nomaanyc.org.
Amy Roberts, Annette Fernández, Anthony Rojas, Ayinde Stevens, Beatriz Ureña, Beau Austin, Betina Zolkower, Bjorn Bolinder, Carlos Deschamps, Carlos Rivera-Duclos, Caroline Quinones / Leandro Heredia, Cathleen Campbell, Christopher S. Kelly, Cole Thompson, Dan Davenport, Daphne Victoria J., Darcy Rogers, DDB, Emmanuel Abreu, Eric K. Washington, Evan Febrillet, Franck de las Mercedes, Isadora Cardoso, Jacinta Bujanda-Suárez, Jaidee Santos, Jason Fuentes, Jeffrey DotShotIt Batista, Jessica León, Jhomalys Moran, JM Arcella, John-Michael Arcella, Jonathan Fernández, Josh Mock, Juan Duran, Kamel Brown, Lauren von Eckartsberg, Led Black, Leyda Luz, Manny Molina, Marc Genova, Marcos Jiménez, Marcus J., Martin Collins, Michael Lebrón, Michael Palma Mir, Monica Patten, Patricia Bellucci, Peter Cooper, Praveen K Chaudhry, Robert Adon, Sam Popp, Sharese Ann Frederick, Sheila Maldonado, Shellie Balakin, Skand Mishra, Sofia Torres Prida, Sontenish Myers, Stefanie Vera, Stephen Fretz, Takashi Harada