New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

Joel Meyerowitz
Legacy: The Preservation of Wilderness in New York City Parks
Susanna Sloat

Without the expense of a trip to the Caribbean, you can briefly erase winter by entering the exhibit "Legacy: the Preservation of Wilderness in New York City Parks" at the Museum of the City of New York. Huge prints on tyvek curtain the entry walls with Joel Meyerowitz's vision of densely leafy Bronx River parkland. Two overlapping prints of a wide waterfall frame an almost hidden entry into the next room, celebrating tree trunks. Also large scale, these take various forms from various parks and seasons – the myriad skinny trunks of thickets, the complexly branching ones of majestic trees.

The following large room is much more ordinary. Here are framed prints of different sizes from all five boroughs offering familiar scenes and a few surprises. It's the unknown that inveigles – the overgrown hospital buildings of North Brother Island, now a heron sanctuary, the mature forest of Seton Falls Park in the northeast Bronx, the tree and reed framed Udalls Cove in Little Neck. Meyerowitz has photographed Central Park's Hallett Nature Sanctuary, next to the Pond, in all seasons. In the most startling view, a cluster of orange, blue, and yellow balloons has invaded the green floor of the normally closed off woodland sanctuary. Most pictures lack people (or other wildlife), but when they do show up they reinforce the idyllic nature of Meyerowitz's vision. Two men have climbed into the low spreading branches of a big tree, compositionally complementing a nearby group at a spring picnic. Lushly green or winter spare, Meyerowitz highlights the formal properties in what is never wilderness, but awfully nice nonetheless. And a view or two of a beginning to green spring offer cyclic hope for the winterbound.

Joel Meyerowitz
Legacy: The Preservation of Wilderness in New York City Parks

Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Ave.
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212 534 1672

Sunday, November 1 to
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Hours: Tues - Sun 10 to 5