Meryl Meisler: QUIRKYVISION
I love photographs of New York City in the 1970’s and 80’s, when the city was at its worst and at its best, filled with a raw energy, graffiti covered subway cars, fueled by cocaine and poppers, throbbing nightclubs providing endless nights of fantasy and nights of abandon and connection. Fortunately, photographer Meryl Meisler was there to document the craziness, the clubs, and well, all the rest.
Opening July 14th and running through August 15th, Meryl Meisler’s QUIRKYVISION will be installed at Le Palais des Congrès de Vichy during the PORTRAIT(S) Tenth Annual Festival in Vichy, France.
Inspired by Diane Arbus, Meryl Meisler enrolled in a photography class at The University of Wisconsin–Madison. She moved to NYC in 1975 and studied with Lisette Model while photographing her Long Island hometown and the city around her. After working as a freelance illustrator by day, Meryl frequented and photographed the infamous New York Discos. As a 1978 CETA Artist grant recipient, Meryl created a portfolio of photographs exploring her Jewish Identity for the American Jewish Congress. After CETA, Meryl began a 31-year career as an NYC Public School Art Teacher. Upon retiring from teaching, she began releasing large bodies of previously unseen work. Meryl is an honoree of the 2021 Center for Photography at Woodstock Affinity Award. Time Magazine includes her on their list of the greatest unsung female photographers of the past century. Meryl is still digging through her archive while continuing her visual memoir, sweet and sassy with a pinch of mystery. The best is yet to come. Meryl Meisler is represented by ClampArt.
Follow Meryl Meisler on instagram: @merylmeisler
“Impertinent and humorous, Meryl Meisler plunges us into a captivating city and time, 1970s and 1980s New York. Her shots celebrate disco evenings and strip-tease clubs, her Jewish family and Long Island suburb, or life in a public school in one of the roughest Brooklyn neighborhoods.
Inspired by Diane Arbus and Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Meryl Meisler, who was born in 1951, studied with legendary photographer Lisette Model while documenting her own life, with her camera screwed to her quirky eye. It was only when she retired from being a teacher in 2010 that she began releasing her archives, which led to the creation of this event. As a time capsules of New York in the seventies and eighties, her shots are a simultaneous celebration of discos and strip clubs, her Jewish family and Long Island suburb, or NYC public school life in one of Brooklyn’s toughest neighborhoods. Impertinent and comical, Meryl Meisler captures in black and white or color moments of pure joy at the center of daily hardships, plunging us into a fascinating time and city.
This tenth Portrait(s) Festival in Vichy will celebrate the arts in the plural and have a lot of surprises. The Grand Casino will be transformed into a temple of photography, with exhibitions, conferences, and projections before moving into the public space, in this spa city by the Allier River. The thirteen exhibitions feature work by Christophe Acker, Charlotte Boudon, Omar Victor Diop, Henrike Stahl, Marie Magnier, Meryl Meisler, Éric Poupy, Kourtney Roy, Komath Studio. Brigitte Patient. Christian Tagliavini. Alain Willaume, and photography by ninth-grade students at the Collège des Célestins.”
Meisler shares her story:
QUIRKYVISION – my first solo exhibit in France will be at PORTRAIT(S) Tenth Annual Festival in Vichy, France, from June 24 through September 4, 2022
QUIRKYVISION is my largest exhibition yet, consisting of 50 images exquisitely installed at the Le Palais des Congrès de Vichy, a historical architectural gem. I will be at the opening weekend, June 24th and 25th, with gratitude to be a guest of the City of Vichy and Festival Portrait(s).
Fany Dupêche, Artistic Director, and Pascal Michaut, Project Director of Art Photo Projects brilliantly curated QUIRKYVISION. They selected work from the 1970s and 1980s relating to major themes in my books: Nightlife, Family, and Bushwick, Brooklyn. Since childhood, I’ve been aware that I “see funny.” QUIRKYVISION made sense when they asked me to title the exhibition
People with French connections have greatly influenced my work and opened doors of opportunity. Enrolled in my first photography class in 1973, the professor introduced the work of Jacques Henri Lartigue, Brassaï, and Lisette Model. Lartigue’s decades-long visual diary of playful family and friends, Brassai’s effervescent and daring Paris by Night, and Model’s upfront street and performers inspired my visual diary of family, friends, work, and nightlife celebrating with the snapshot aesthetic. Wanting to study with Model was reason enough to move to NYC in 1975.
Flash forward to 2012; Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, a French filmmaker, living in Bushwick and owner of BIZARRE, a drag/burlesque club, discovered my work while researching his new neighborhood. BIZARRE published “A Tale of Two Cities Disco Era Bushwick” (2014) and “Purgatory & Paradise SASSY ‘70s Suburbia & The City” (2015). Sauvaire helped me edit “New York PARADISE LOST Bushwick Era Disco” (Parallel Pictures Press 2021) from concept to finish.
French director and journalist Sophie Peyrard, did the first review of my books in a French magazine, Lui. After that, she made a film about my work for ARTE. Sophie Peyrard introduced my work to Fany Dupêche, Project Director, who invited me to participate in Festival Portrait(s). Merci beaucoup!
This tenth Portrait(s) Festival in Vichy will celebrate the arts in the plural and have a lot of surprises. The Grand Casino will be transformed into a temple of photography with exhibitions, conferences, and projections before moving into the public space in this spa city by the Allier River. The thirteen shows feature work by Christophe Acker, Charlotte Boudon, Omar Victor Diop, Henrike Stahl, Marie Magnier, Meryl Meisler, Éric Poupy, Kourtney Roy, Komath Studio. Brigitte Patient. Christian Tagliavini. Alain Willaume, and photography by ninth-grade students at the Collège des Célestins. Come on a delightful photographic wander through Vichy, virtually or in person!
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