Wandering the streets of the city gives me the feeling that I have not forgotten anything, and not much has changed. Yes, some new buildings here and there. But the energy, beauty, and excitement are the same. Great power is present in quiet repose. Always ready to come forth when you summon it, or when you’re open to it fully.
Near The Plaza Hotel I stop and contemplate Frederick MacMonnies's Civil War equestrian statue in Grand Army Plaza. When I was studying photography at NYU many years ago I chose this dynamic sculpture as my very first assignment. I isolated various parts of it in my Mamiya Sekor Spotmatic's viewfinder. Later in the darkroom I made a dozen stark black and white prints. The curved wreath in the guardian Angel's hand. General William Tecumseh Sherman's boot in the stirrup. The Angel's face in profile against a white sky. In class I nervously arranged the images in a row on the eraser shelf of the blackboard. My classmates were silent. I was afraid. But then Dr. Casey Allen, my professor, smiled. "Ah, yes," he said. "Very nice."
Back then the representation of "Uncle Billy," as he was affectionately known to his troops, was uniformly black with an accumulation of decades of the city's soot and motor vehicle exhaust. Now, however, it's a gleaming gold apparition, like in a religious ecstasy. The city reinvents itself. I'm obliged to do the same.