FotoFriday: Barbara Mensch’s Photographs of Our Lost Maritime Heritage

 "Vinny, an Unloader" (1982).  South Street Seaport Museum
"Vinny, an Unloader" (1982). South Street Seaport Museum 2008.005.0018. Copyright Barbara G. Mensch.

Barbara G. Mensch is a contemporary photographer who through the 1970’s and early 1980’s captured the rapidly disappearing world of Lower Manhattan’s Fulton Fish Market. Thomas Mellins, special projects curator for the Museum of The City of New York, put together an exhibition titled The Photographs of Barbara Mensch at the South Street Seaport Museum. The artist’s work can also be viewed in her book, South Street.

From the South Street Seaport Museum website:

For more than a century, a tightly knit community of workingmen, many of them immigrants or children of immigrants, thrived in their nocturnal jobs as fishmongers under the base of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Resistant to government regulations and corporate encroachment these men worked in a closed, internally-policed world that was deeply hostile to outsiders.

Many of the images were taken in 1979-1983, a time of profound change in the political and economic landscape of Lower Manhattan. The waterfront below the Brooklyn Bridge was targeted for economic revival, spurred by the demolition of important locales in the fish market, existing piers, working storefronts, saloons and hotels to make room for new commercial spaces, including a shopping mall.

Since there is nothing like experiencing art in person, make sure you get to the South Street Seaport Museum if you can.

Please don’t miss the great interview with the photographer by Columbia University Press.

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Sea(cret) Santa (13 Days Left): Artful Giving

Sea(cret) Santa thinks that there is no better gift to give someone special than art and today in keeping with Sea-Fever tradition of FotoFriday, his bag is full of Fred LeBlanc’s unique maritime photographs.

Ernestina Fred Leblanc

About the artist from his website:

Frederick J. LeBlanc has worked as a professional photojournalist for over twenty-five years. His commercial and editorial images have appeared regularly in regional and national publications. His life long passion for classic wooden sailing vessels has led him, over the last decade, to document these historic windjammers as they sail, in harmony with the wind and sea.

Viewing himself as a photojournalistic storyteller, he uses his fine art prints,to bring to the public a greater awareness and appreciation of our maritime heritage.

Through his collections of photographic artwork he hopes to recall a vanishing era when the waves were broken only by the power of the wind, to capture the majestic beauty of these historic tall ships and to offer a visual escape that evokes a longing for the sea.

Fred also writes Wake of the Windjammers, an interesting blog about maritime heritage and photography.

Roseway Sails

Best of all, Fred’s original artwork is very reasonably priced. For instance, the above “Roseway Sails,” a 11×16 archival pigment ink print on media, matted 16×20 (includes shipping and handling) is a Collectors Print December Special offered for only $ 39.00! Prices on his other work start at $20.

Fred’s been a great promoter of maritime heritage and supporter nonprofit organizations like the American Sail Training Association.  And Santa thinks his art is great too!

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Foto Friday – Scenes From Antarctica (The Big Picture Blog)

Photo by Mike Usher / National Science Foundation

The former Russian icebreaker and now cruiseliner Kapitan Khlebnikov breaks through the annual sea ice near the Oates Coast of Antarctica on January 29, 2005. (Photo credit: Mike Usher/National Science Foundation)

If you are not familiar with the Boston Globe’s The Big Picture photoblog, you are missing out on one of the most amazing ongoing large scale photography exhibitions on the Internet. Click on the above photo to see the original and explore; you won’t be disappointed.

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Foto Friday – Launching Dreams (New Bedford Whaling Museum)

Lagoda under construction - New Bedford Whaling Museum

I stumbled upon this cool photo this morning on the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Flickr photostream. The model of the Lagoda has fueled a lot of young sailors dreams including mine many, many decades ago and my 5 year old son Luke’s currently. Check out The World’s Largest Ship Model for more.

Luke on the Lagoda

The New Bedford Whaling Museum has posted a really great selection of photographs and copies of artwork on Flickr, many of which are available for purchase via their Window Back Gallery. (Copies of that it is!)

Hopefully this collection will whet your appetite because there is nothing better than seeing art up close and in person and climbing aboard the Lagoda and dreaming of going to sea.

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Foto Friday – Night Shift / Coast Guardsmen (NY Times Lens Series)

Lens CG by Michelle Agins for the NY Times
Boatswain's Mate Estrella, who was born in the Dominican Republic, works to protect the infrastructure and to assist in search and rescue operations. Photo: Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

The above photograph is one of a series from a slideshow from the NY Times Lens Series.  From the City Room blog, Lens: Night Shift | Coast Guardsman:

Luis Estrella, 26, a boatswain’s mate third class, patrols the waters from the Staten Island Ferry to the Outerbridge Crossing to Newark Bay on a Marine Domain Awareness patrol, which involves a four-man crew that works two 12-hour shifts over 48 hours.

The patrols work in three areas — the upper Hudson River, Lower Manhattan and the Newark Bay area — to protect the infrastructure and to assist in search and rescue operations.

About the Lens Series:

For the past three months, Michelle V. Agins, a staff photographer for The Times, worked the night shift alongside them, patrolling New York Harbor for security breaches with the United States Coast Guard, presiding over the empty pews with the night watchman at the Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue at 29th Street, feeding infant twin boys with a baby nurse in Park Slope, riding an ambulance all over with emergency medical technicians. Here Gary Louhisdon, a security guard at the American Museum of Natural History, walks among the exhibits, much as Ben Stiller did in “Night at the Museum.”

Each week for the next three months, photographs will appear of other members of the city’s secret club that meets after midnight. Please, they asked, do not call it the graveyard shift. They are not dead.

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