Saturday, November 21, 2015


Friday the thirteenth blew onto the calendar in November. It would be my last day in the city; on Saturday I'd board an early morning flight back to the Midwest. I'd finished my last meeting earlier than expected. I'd cleaned the apartment and done the wash before the sun had a chance to paint shadows on the streets in deepening strokes of black and gray. By mid-afternoon the sun had made its arc over the island taking its light show to the city's pillars of brick and glass splashing them with glints of gold and amber.
My bag for the next day's flight had been packed and zipped. The beauty of the day was pushing me out the door for one more visual adventure. I found myself on the subway with no destination in mind. I took the first train that came into the station and rode until the conductor said, "Next stop Broadway-LaFayette". It would be Soho. I got out. The magic of fall light was warming the city in a bath of bursting bubbles as the sun popped  a coruscation of diamond-like sparks on the castiron windows of Soho's century old buildings.
I didn't want to lose the spectacle the sun was providing for free and the only way I could think of to chase it was to walk west into the light.
Every corner you turn in Manhattan hides a surprise; some that may have existed there for decades while others are new and fleeting only staying for a moment before they are lost to everything except your memory.
One of those magic fleeting moments of Manhattan happened as I turned from Greenwich Street onto Gansevoort. I had followed the street's cobbled path and as if I had been dropped into the rabbit hole I found myself in the midst of the world of advertising as a surreal commercial was being filmed. Cadillac had blocked off the street, watered down the nineteenth century bricks and lit the street with a huge klieg light turn each brick into a gleam gem.
A production assistant kept us off the street while a black Cadillac SUV rolled over the brick road and then back again followed by a camera rigged like a cantilevered transformer from the roof of a trailing car.
Once the last shot had been put to bed the production assistant put down her rope and let us onto the sidewalk with the warning to try to keep close to the sides of the buildings as people started to cover the wet walkway, some on their way to the New Whitney, some to the shops and cafes of the Meat Packing District and some like me onto the southern entrance to the Highline.
The warm amber light of fall was slowly rolling up the facades of the manufacturing buildings now turned to luxury residences like a brilliant Roman shade being raised to reveal the darkness of night.
The length of the Highline still contained the golds of native grasses stripped of their summer greens, the plants now relegated from being the divas of the walk to lowly extras behind the overpowering majesty of the buildings from centuries ago. There is so much new trying to sprout along the Highline. New construction seemed to arise from every available lot previously housing open-air parking lots and abandoned buildings.
The skeletons of new high-rises and the infrastructure of the Highline became the strokes and palettes now colored by the sunset. In no time the sunlight would wane and the artificial lights of city would take over the leading role in the play with the longest run in the Great White Way's history.
It was an eerie beauty, a beauty that held me transfixed and peaceful while miles and oceans away the darkness of a totally different nature was playing out in streams of liquid red.
I had no way of knowing what was going on in the city of lights as I stood mesmerized by bliss ignorance can provide.

Luca Campiotto, photographer
Gotham City no. 25
Represented by Laurence Miller Gallery

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