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The Miraculous

The Miraculous: New York

96. A second-floor gallery on Mercer and Prince Street, a studio in a former synagogue on Hester Street

At the age of 31, an artist walks into a SoHo gallery containing only a single work—a 35-foot-long abstract painting—and begins to feel almost physically sick. He has been deeply affected by the political movements of the previous decade (feminism, civil rights, war protests) and realizes that he doesn’t want to go on making big paintings. He can’t stand the thought of one of his paintings ending up in a bank lobby or even in a museum.

The Miraculous: New York

97. Greenpoint

An artist who grew up not far from Disneyland moves from Southern California to New York where he finds a cheap apartment in Greenpoint and a job at a framing shop. It’s the mid-1980s and the city seems like a rough place filled with a lot of obnoxious people. He wonders whether the problem is that New Yorkers never get to see the night sky.

The Miraculous: New York

98. The Lower East Side (mostly)

After the suicide of her older sister, a 11-year-old girl decides that she will never let another memory vanish. She begins taking photographs of everyone she knows, firm in the belief that by photographing them she will never lose them.

The Miraculous: New York

99. Various locations around Manhattan; the Hudson River

In the summer of 1975, a 25-year-old Belgian filmmaker and her cinematographer shoot footage of Manhattan’s streets and subways for a 90-minute color film. On an intermittent voiceover, the filmmaker reads (in French) from letters her mother has sent her. They are filled with typical parental concern: How is her job?

The Miraculous: New York

100. East 19th Street near Union Square

Speaking in her studio at the age of 100, a Cuban-born artist who has lived mostly in New York for the past 75 years, nearly all of it in obscurity (she was 89 before she finally sold one of her geometric constructions, and survived until then only thanks to her husband’s salary and pension as a public-school teacher) reflects on the museum attention that has come her way over the last two years: “They say, ‘If you wait for the bus, the bus will come.’ I waited 98 years for the bus to come.”


The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2022

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