The Charles P. Sifton Gallery
The United States District Court for
The Eastern District of New York
We tend to categorize people by the primary role they play in society. We think in terms of “my doctor,” “the mayor,” “the judge,” “the postman,” “the banker” or “the doorman.” As we spend more time with them, we often learn of unexpected talents or passions that are not usually associated with their public roles.
In this vein, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York is pleased to present the exhibition, AFTER HOURS, comprised of the works of four photographers with disparate subjects who share a love for photography as a second calling in their lives. All four are members of the Eastern District community.
Rob Levy has had a camera in his hand as long as he can remember. When he was five, his father set up a darkroom in the basement and amazed him with the magic of photography. His first print was of their golden retriever, taken with a Brownie camera. He knew he was hooked when he skipped his college graduation, flew to California, and hitchhiked to Yosemite to take a two week workshop with Ansel Adams. While in law school, he continued his photographic studies, taking courses with master teachers Lisette Model, Philippe Halsmann, Lee Friedlander, and Gilles Peress.
As a lawyer with the New York Civil Liberties Union, he documented the abuse of inmates at the Willowbrook Developmental Center in Staten Island and offered the photographs as evidence during a 30-day trial in the Eastern District of New York. More recently, he has used his camera to record human rights violations in Eastern Europe and Northern Ireland for Human Rights Watch and Disability Rights International.
For many years he has been photographing threatened cultures and vanishing ways of life. The photographs in this exhibition, Levy's first of several projects on manual labor, focus on metal workers and are part of a larger study of trade guilds in the Karakoy district of Istanbul along the Golden Horn. He stumbled upon them by accident while following a porter down a crowded street filled with blacksmiths, shoeshine boys, and tea shops. They worked in crumbling buildings beside the old walls of Constantinople and produced an astounding variety of metal objects by creating hand-cast molds into which they poured molten metal.
To realize this project, Levy studied Turkish and spent several weeks in Karakoy in the late 1970's with many of the tradesmen and their apprentices, observing their work, and sharing glasses of hot tea. When he returned years later, the buildings had been leveled, the land redeveloped, and the workshops closed or relocated to foundries across the Bosporus.
The photographs in this exhibition were taken in 35 mm and in medium format. The prints are silver gelatin.
Rob Levy's photographs are included in the permanent collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art and have been reproduced in various publications and television programs, including the New York Times, Popular Photography (photo essay), The Village Voice (photo essay), various reports by Human Rights Watch and Disability Rights International, and Sixty Minutes. More of his photographs can be viewed at www.flickr.com/photos/roblevyphoto31.
Levy’s photographs have previously been exhibited at the Eastern District of New York, the Romanian Cultural Center, and Black and White on White.
Rob Levy has been a Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of New York since 1995.
Since receiving a 35 mm camera as a gift as a teenager, Ed Newman has been interested in photographing the street life and music of the cities in which he has lived. After studying photography at the International Center for Photography, he moved to New Orleans, where he photographed jazz funerals, second line parades and musical performers. During his time in New Orleans, he worked with the legendary New Orleans documentarian Michael P. Smith, whom he considers his mentor.
A documentarian himself, Newman used his 35 mm camera exclusively until 2001, when he acquired his first digital single lens reflex camera. Thereafter he used the new camera to continue his work of capturing endangered sights, from the parade and Mardi Gras Indian culture of New Orleans to the vanishing neon of New York City.
Newman’s work has appeared in a number of American and European publications, including The Oxford American and Offbeat Magazine. His photography also appears in the HBO television series “Treme”. Additional images by Ed Newman can be seen at www.flickr.com/photos/ednewman.
Ed Newman is currently an Assistant United States Attorney in the Civil Division of the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Ruth Nordenbrook has been interested in photojournalism and street photography for most of her adult life.
Nordenbrook describes herself as a street photographer or human documentarian. Self-taught, she works with small, compact cameras, snapping photos from her lap on the subway or from her waist on the street, often without the awareness of her subjects. She finds that modern digital technology has been liberating, enabling her to take numerous photos in rapid succession, even in low light. She is seldom seen without her camera around her neck.
Nordenbrook’s passion remains black and white images. She concurs with the Canadian photographer Ted Grant’s statement: “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. When you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls.”
Nordenbrook recognizes myriad influences: Henri Cartier Bresson; Robert Frank; Alfred Eisenstadt; Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans and the group of photographers whose later controversial work was created as part of the Farm Security Administration’s efforts to create a pictorial record of rural American life between 1935 and 1944; Diane Arbus; and WeeGee, the iconic documentarian of crime on the streets of New York City.
The current exhibition is Nordenbrook’s first. Although it includes 10 component photos, her piece is one work. It is intended to reflect the diversity and richness of her home borough.
Other images by Ruth Nordenbrook can be viewed at www.flickr.com/photos/maddy dread. She has also published four books that may be viewed in the blurb.com bookstore under books by MaddyDread.
Ruth Nordenbrook served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division of the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York from 1978 until her retirement in March 2005. During her years in the United States Attorney’s office she often chronicled daily life there with her collage-style photos of assistants at work. Many of those photos continue to be displayed on the walls of the office. Since her retirement, Nordenbrook has been an active volunteer at the Museum of Modern Art.
Douglas Palmer’s “One Year in Brooklyn” consists of 15 photographs taken in Brooklyn in each of the four seasons. The collection represents one year, though it was taken over three.
Palmer began in photography with an old 35mm camera shooting slides on his trips to Central and South America in the early 1980s. All of that work was stolen and the disappointment of that event and the increasing cost of film development forced a 25 year hiatus from his hobby. Improvements in digital photography convinced him to return to his avocation with renewed passion in 2007. Since then, his chief photographic goal has been the preservation of memory. He is greatly influenced by 19th Century impressionists and the Photorealists of the late 60s.
Further works by Palmer can be viewed at www.flickr.com/photos/diacritical
Palmer is the Clerk of Court for the Eastern District of New York and has served the Judiciary since January, 1992.