I am a huge fan of photography, have been ever since I got my first brownie camera at age seven and I tried desperately to take a picture of a snowflake in black and white film. What emerged when developed captured the thumb of my woolen mitten to perfection but that snowflake eluded me then as it would today. I have learned over a lifetime how elusive a snowflake can be -- or a woman, a baby or a cat -- and most of all a city like New York for a photographer, and the artistry it takes to bring it to life with a fresh eye and an open mind. And now there is one new book of color photographs that captures my city in ways that I have never seen it before. This book is a blessing, or a mitzvah, but most of all it's a wonderful tribute to New York.
Beauty, wit, irony, charm, sadness -- Margery Gray Harnick has caught it all with her camera, framing New York City life with the eye of an artist, and the heart of a humanist. And her husband, lyricist Sheldon Harnick, has provided not just a text but also a series of witty poems that complement the images without attempting to define or limit them. What this is is a superb book. What this it is not -- what you are reading now -- is not an old friend's tribute, a bread and butter note for a shared lifetime that included two musicals we worked on together, and a great deal of laughter. I honor art more than friendship -- better said I honor friendship too much to pay a false compliment to anyone who strives to make art. And this book is true artistry. What makes it particularly wonderful for me is that this is the art of maturity that has all the freshness of a youthful vision, the art of a woman who found photography late in life, after a career as a Broadway actress/dancer, a mother, and a fine arts painter.
The many images of the city show life reflected and refracted in puddles after a rain, in store windows, in subways, in celebrations and in sadness. The images are varied but pulled together by the city it celebrates. A Jackson Pollack in graffiti, a solitary bike rider in Central Park after a rain, the beak of a swan, the deep sadness of a street person carrying his or her life in a few plastic shopping bags while staring at the jewels in the Fifth Avenue window of Bulgari. This says more than any editorial -- but does it with beauty and irony rather than preaching. And the haunting images of store mannequins who take on a secret life of their own -- we always suspected that they were just fooling us in those window displays -- well, Margery proves it. There's more, much more, but I don't want to spoil the pleasure so come to these pictures with your own eyes and Margery Harnick will reward you with a new New York -- her New York which is now my New York and will soon be yours. And there is the added gift of Sheldon's witty, pungent poetic commentary. You may recall that he was the lyricist for Fiorello -- the best musical ever written about New York. Together with his wife Margery Gray Harnick they offer their love letter to New York City, and Margery gets and deserves her top billing here. If you love New York City, people, puddles, or just plain great photography, don't wait until Valentine's Day to visit this outdoor museum.