Industry City in Brooklyn was bustling this past Saturday. People threaded their way from building to building, exploring the variety of shops and galleries on various floors. The aisles were full in the Middle Eastern food market. Friends filled a table at the Japanese food court. People enjoyed iced coffee in the sun. Children ran around the courtyard play areas. It was a happy sight.
It was great to be in the midst of so many people again. And it’s exciting to wander through the repurposed former industrial buildings. What a poster child for adaptive reuse.
I was there to meet Masao Gozu, and see “Windows to New York” – an exhibition of his photography and sculptures which was opening at the Court Tree Collective. The Japanese-born artist documented a now-vanished New York and fashioned his sculpture from demolished buildings.
Gozu has lived in New York for 50 years. He roamed Chinatown, Little Italy, Harlem, and various Brooklyn neighborhoods with his camera, becoming fascinated with tenement windows as frames for people and architecture. A pensive woman leans her chin on her hand as she stares out a window on Hester Street. Two young girls lean on a sill on Mulberry Street framed by a classical surround. A mother holds her baby son standing against the pane in Chinatown. A man and a hen are at an open window with two American flags held in the window guard. Gozu took a series of pictures over several years of a window at a now-demolished Bowery bar. Various solitary patrons stare out as neon beer signs and seasons change.
Gozu began collecting rubble from construction sites in the 1980s. “No one bothered me as I did,” he said. He resized the bricks, used salvaged wood from discarded windows, fashioned sculptures of windows that look as though they were torn from lost facades.
The three window sculptures at the gallery vary in size and texture. Moss covers some brick in one. Your imagination decides the stories they tell.
Gozu is planning to return to his hometown of Naruda. Gallery co-founder Stephen Lipuma hopes to locate some of the sculptures in City parks or open spaces. I hope he succeeds. They would be a reminder of New York’s layers of history and of a gifted artist who loved his adopted home.