Photographer Meryl Meisler‘s journey in street photography began in the early 1970s, when she started documenting suburban life on Long Island. That quickly transitioned into following Manhattan's electric nightlife and daily life in Bushwick well before its gentrification. Her vast archive of photos, which was only revealed in 2010 after she finished a 31-year career in education, is now on display together with her more recent images in an incredible five-decade retrospective.
Meryl Meisler | Simply Scintillating: A Retrospective is the photographer's second solo show with CLAMP. Located in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, CLAMP is the perfect home to celebrate Meisler's look at the grit and glamour of New York City. By mixing her vintage street photography with new work, it's clear that Meisler's desire to represent her LGBTQ and Jewish identities, NYC street life, and nightlife adventures has never wavered.
From the Village People stepping out of Manhattan's fabled Grand Ballroom in 1978 to current nightlife icon Amanda Lepore celebrating a recent birthday, the photos show Meisler's ability to stay on the pulse of life after dark in the city. But at the same time, her quiet portraits of subway riders and ladies at the salon also show a keen desire to capture the routines of daily life.
“Everyone you meet, even if for a moment, is important,” Meisler shared with My Modern Met in our 2017 interview. “Treat them as such. We are all witness to and part of history. This is your time, this is your place.”
Her work is a testament to this philosophy and, thanks to this ethos, we're able to witness her exciting time capsule of life in New York, past and present.
Meryl Meisler | Simply Scintillating: A Retrospective is on view at CLAMP in New York City until November 4, 2023.