NSFW: As a girl, Arlene Gottfried went to Woodstock armed with a small 35mm camera that once belonged to her uncle and afterward, her Brooklyn neighborhood offered her plenty to shoot in her in her own neck of the woods. Gottfried spent a lot of time in Coney Island and Brighton Beach, as well as the Manhattan’s burgeoning nightclub scene. She says about the era;
“It was very diverse. It still is in some respects, you see a lot of different people, but it’s not the same. It’s almost impossible to describe how it was and the new New York City, how it evolved to what it is now, we’ve lost so many little businesses that gave it color. You used to know the people who ran the shops and there was a lot more grit and interesting textural backgrounds for all the different kinds of people you saw on the street.”
Gottfried considered herself reserved, but once the camera was in her hand, it acted like a shield against the world, as well as an excuse and she felt comfortable asking strangers if she could shoot them;
“If I wanted to take a picture, I would just ask the people. I don’t do it as much now; now I just shoot and don’t ask people, but back then they were looking right at me and they were close to me so they were in agreement obviously!”
Note, the next to the last image is of actress/ writer/ musician (and my old pal) Ann Magnuson who used to live across from me on Tompkins park, back in the day. An edit of another 30+ images, many from her book Sometimes Overwhelming, is now on view at Daniel Cooney Gallery through December 20.
(Photos, Arlene Gottfried; via Slate)