Broke-Ass Art Spotlight: John McGregor

I just moved recently, and if there’s something more annoying than spending money on new art for your walls (and actually moving), I’d sure like to hear about it.  I was pleased to find out that my roommate had purchased a print (below) from none other than my former neighbor and photographer, John McGregor.

He recently had a exhibition opening at Joe’s Coffee shop in Chelsea that’ll be there until about April or so.   I know it’s pretty standard and somewhat boring to have pictures of New York City, but incredibly, John takes a refreshingly new and original approach to New York photography.

Almost all of his prints have a candy-colored quality that you’d commonly see in urban photos of Tokyo.  John looks for the brightness in otherwise mundane structures and objects and turns what is in my opinion, the complete exhaustion of the idea of New York as a gritty, hard, and overwhelmingly urban and cold, completely on its head.  It’s not that he loses the grit completely, but it’s almost as though you’re looking through the eyes of yourself when you first moved to New York.  Everything is a bit idealized, but still grounded in the reality that it’s not the easiest thing in the world to live here– you just really, really have to love it.

You can see this quality especially in this Statue of Liberty piece below.  I mean, how many times has the image of the Statue of fucking Liberty been thrown in your face?  I’d be an understatement to say that it’s probably one of the most overused images in the past 100 years to the point that it’s Pavlovian that my eyes glaze over whenever I see it.  But in the context of John’s photo, I can actually stand looking at it.  Not only that, but the sense of triumph is fucking palpable,  You can’t NOT feel something when looking at this photo.  Given the nearly uncontrollable eyeroll/eye-glazing thing that occurs every time this damn statue is even mentioned, John’s accomplished something pretty major here.

Not to get all emo on you guys even more, but for all of the difficulty faced in living in such a major and expensive metropolitan center, I couldn’t think of anything more pleasant to hang on one’s wall than a reminder that you are, in fact, making it here, in the greatest city in the United States, that  you’ve clearly made the right decision to stick it out, that you can still find unexpected beauty behind nearly every turn, and that you no one can ever take that away from you.

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Anna G - Caliburg Contributor

Anna G. is a Southern California native living in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn since 2005. Anna is constantly trying to unite her love of CA sunshine and the excitement of the New York urban jungle, all the while trying to keep her unwieldy credit card debt under control, and look fabulous at brunch, no matter how un-showered and hungover.

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