Baumann paints the same city, different times
There is a lovely small show of paintings on West 14th Street that evokes a sweet nostalgia for New York City of another era. But blink and you might miss it!
The 14th Street Framing Gallery is the kind of local business that used to help define the neighborhoods of New York. It’s been around for several decades, quietly serving the neighborhood and occasionally mounting exhibitions. The current show of paintings by Richard Baumann consists of six small canvases hung in the shop’s window. They delicately portray six storefronts of vaguely recognizable old time businesses- printing, candy, and baked goods.
Like the 14th St Framing Gallery, they are the stores and professions of another time. A time in NYC when mall stores were unheard of and mom and pop businesses could thrive. It’s somehow poetic that they hang in the shop window of the very type of business they portray.
Baumann is a painter with a light touch. Soft color, gentle light and a little fuzziness create the mood of contemplation. The light in these paintings suggests early morning before the city has awakened. There are no hard edges in Baumann’s New York City. Devoid of people, the city is quiet, expectant and solitary. Clearly influenced by Edward Hopper these paintings are like little time capsules of a time past. They convey a longing for a New York without the bustle of contemporary life.
I wish that there were more than just six paintings. It would be powerful to see a room full of these intimate visions; an entire city created from these snapshots from the past.
So as you’re hustling down west 14th Street to see whose wearing what in the Meatpacking District. Or on your way to stand in line to shuffle down the Highline with the tourists, be on the lookout for a small respite from the modern era. Take a minute and lose yourself in Richard Baumann’s New York.
Richard Baumann Show through October 12 at 14th Street Framing Gallery, 225 West 14th Street between 7th and 8th Ave.
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