Greenwich Village

A Look At Charlotte Powell, Village Painter (Photograph)

Charlotte Powell, Village Painter seems to be following me around. Most recently, it came up in a course I recently completed for my graduate degree in Museum Studies. I also belong to many historical New York City photography groups on Facebook (Al Ponte’s Time Machine – New York and Bronx Third Ave El are two of my favorites) where I have seen it several times as well as websites like Gothamist and Monovision.

About the Photographer

Jessie_Tarbox_Beals_with_camera_Schlesinger_LibraryJessie Tarbox Beals (1870-1942) was a pioneer for women, working as the first published female photojournalist in the United States. While working, she carried heavy camera equipment while donning the bulky women’s fashions of the late 19th and early 20th century. Beals later opened her own studio as a divorced, single mother.

At the turn-of-the-century Beals lived and worked in Greenwich Village, which she photographed extensively. Greenwich Village, which resisted the City planning idea of the grid, was a haven for bohemian artists and writers. Beals may have found like-minded peers. It seemed natural that she would gravitate toward photographing the bohemians of Greenwich Village in New York City—the part of the City that said no to the grid and gave birth the Gay Liberation movement!  In her photograph of Charlotte Powell, Beals captured a fellow unconventional woman, dressed in overalls, doing traditional men’s work

Notes on the Photograph

The first thing I would like to note about this photograph is the fact that an early 20th century woman is wearing pants. And she is not wearing pants to be fashionable like Marlene Dietrich, she is wearing overalls, work pants, not unlike Amelia Earhart’s aviator pants. Like Earhart, Charlotte Powell is seen working at what was then considered men’s labor. In contrast to her overall gruff fashion, Powell is wearing a rather delicate looking watch. I couldn’t help but wonder what Beals was wearing when she took this photograph.

We see two sets of stairs in this photograph. Stairs are a principal and practical part of architecture that stand with a sense of purpose. In the same way that water gives and takes life, stairs can bring us up and plunge us down. Powell may be at the bottom of the stone stairs, but she is slowly climbing out of the prison (see the bars on the far right) of cultural norms on a rickety ladder being held together by string, of her making.

I find the sign above Powell concurrently appropriate and irksome. Appropriate because it gives us a geographic marker of sorts and irksome, because the curtains are drawn, and we have no idea what that The Village Store sells. But the sign is also well designed—I admired the way the typeface emphasized The Village.

While writing this, I became more intrigued by the photograph and tried to find this location using Google Maps. I wanted to see if this building was still standing. New York undervalues older buildings. I was unsuccessful in finding the possible location of this photograph.

New York Historical Society Label and Link

Title

Charlotte Powell, Village painter.

Collection Title

Jessie Tarbox Beals photograph collection, ca. 1905-1940.

Creator / Contributor

Beals, Jessie Tarbox

Identifier

Print Room – PR-004-02-13

Date

[ca. 1905-1916]

Subject

Women–Photographs
Women painters–Photographs

Subject personal name

Powell, Charlotte–Portraits

Subject geographic name

Greenwich Village (New York, N.Y.)–Social life and customs–Photographs
Greenwich Village (New York, N.Y.)–Photographs

Material type or medium of original

Photographic prints

Physical Description

1 photograph : gelatin silver print ; 10 x 8 inches

Rights management

This digital image may be used for educational or scholarly purposes without restriction. Commercial and other uses of the item are prohibited without prior written permission from the New-York Historical Society. For more information, please visit the New-York Historical Society’s Rights and Reproductions Department web page at http://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions

http://digitalcollections.nyhistory.org/islandora/object/nyhs%3A1211

 

www.edwinroman.com

Edwin Roman: The Year in Pictures 2019

Last year I noted that 2018 was not a very productive year with regards to photography largely stemming from health issues. 2019 was not much better, but for different reasons. In the fall, I started a Master’s degree in Museum Studies at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. And just before I started at CUNY SPS, I spent time working on the two photography books I self-published in November. The first book, 21st Century Coney Island, is a collection of photographs taken over the course of three years starting in the summer of 2016 and up to August 2019. Proceeds of this book will be donated to Habit for Humanity of Puerto Rico. The second book, A New Yorker in New Mexico, collects photographs from two trips, one in 2012 and another in 2018. Proceeds of this book will donated to the While they Wait fund.

The photographs I am sharing here have not been published anywhere online or in print. They were taken between February and August of 2019. I hope you enjoy this collection.

A Garden Stroll
The first picture of 2019. Taken at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Cherished Time.
People watching in Chinatown on Allen Street.
West Side Weather Vane
As seen near Broadway and 100th Street.
Sole Glamper
This was taken on Governors Island. I wanted to take more pictures of this woman,
but she noticed me. I wish she had not, because she was quite interesting.
End of The Line
A detail from the now defunct Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal at Liberty State Park in New Jersey. This park is just wonderful. I recommend you visit—even if you don’t have a car, you can still get there via the Path train and then the Light Rail.
Stand Out
Even before I color splashed this photograph, this guy’s sneakers stood out!
This was taken on the Coney Island Boardwalk.
Two Benches
People watching at Tallman State Park upstate. In the distance you can see the new Cuomo Bridge that replaces the Tappan Zee. I understand that when it is fully completed will have a pedestrian path—maybe I can get some photos next year!
Cold Bench
A chilly day at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Big Hairy Pussy
Perhaps the person who wrote this has a large cat…?
This was taken in the East Village.
Rockland Bench
As seen at Rockland State Park. Yes, I photographed a number of park benches this year.
Smoking
I was out one day on a photo safari and was standing on Morningside Drive photographing the Manhattan Valley landscape and happen to notice these two young men below me on the steps smoking some weed.
Save Us
As seen in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
C
From my last day out with my camera in 2019.
An architectural detail from a building on 6th Avenue.
Tallman View
Another trip up to Tallman State Park. In the distance is the Cuomo Bridge that replaces the Tappan Zee. Pretty soon the trees are going to grow higher and block the view completely.
Framing
As seen on the Coney Island Boardwalk.
Colorful Sunset
An outtake from my book, 21st Century Coney Island. I didn’t use this picture because I choose a different and smaller square size for the book.
Drummer Boy
As seen at Washington Square Park.
Scooted
As seen in the West Village.
Baby Birds
This was taken inside a restroom at Rockland State Park. This picture reminds me of one I took in 2017 of a little turtle in this same park who was burying her eggs on shore.
Iron Floral
As seen at Riverside Park.
Stone Cold
As seen outside of the Brooklyn Museum on a chilly day!
To Trains
Another photograph from the now defunct Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal at Liberty State Park in New Jersey. This building is still quite elegant.
Time Out
This young man was taking a break after making a delivery. This was taken in Chinatown.
Anchor Up.
As seen from a ferry en route to Governors Island.
Manhattan
What I love about this picture is that there is not a construction crane in sight!
Happy Text
As seen in Bryant Park.
Roar
As seen outside of the Brooklyn Museum.
Good Night Coney Island
I used a different photograph of this young man on the back of my book,
21st Century Coney Island.
Crane Operation
As seen from the ferry en route to Governors Island.
Let Us Have Peace
As seen at Riverside Park, Grant’s Tomb.
Isn’t this what we all want?

Thank you for stopping by.

See more of my artwork at edwinroman.com.