Category Archives: PHOTOGRAPHY

Fire Island Pines Celebrates Its Diamond Jubilee

Fishermans Path corner of Ocean Walk in Fire Island Pines, mid-1950s
In the beginning: The intersection of Ocean Walk and Fisherman’s Path boardwalks in Fire Island Pines in the 1950s–before the full-on development of the enclave had really got going.

Six decades ago this summer, the Fire Island Pines Property Owners Association was formed—and what had been been a desolate stretch of scrub and sand began its transformation into the fabled gay vacation Mecca. I’ve been spending my summers in the Pines since the early 1970s, both as a resident and an architect, so my partner, filmmaker Tony Impavido, and I  were able to contribute to the official Pines’ 60th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee on June 22. The event’s centerpiece was a pop-up museum featuring photos, artwork, and memorabilia from the community’s history, so we combed the community for material to include in the exhibit. Tony also put together a 31-minute video from the images we collected looking back at everything from dance parties to weddings and children as well as the gorgeous natural surroundings of the Pines. One item we dug up was this 1979 story by Suzanne Slesin from the New York Times about a beach party I co-chaired with my then business partner, the late interior designer Robin Jacobsen.

Suzanne Slesin's story in the New York Times, July 9, 1979, about Scott Bromley's Beach Fire Island '79, oceanside party at the PinesSuzanne Slesin's story in the New York Times, July 9, 1979, about Scott Bromley's Beach Fire Island '79 oceanside party at Fire Island PinesSuzanne Slesin's story in the New York Times, July 9, 1979, about Scott Bromley's Beach Fire Island '79 oceanside party at the Pines

Beach Fire Island 79 Party co-chaired by-Scott Bromley and Robin Jacobsen
Here’s a shot I took of the installation for the Beach Fire Island ’79 oceanside party. Jerry Caldari, with whom I would later establish Bromley Caldari Architectshelped design it. The entire construction took five days to build.

In addition to this summer’s anniversary celebrations, there are a couple of great books about the Pines published recently. The first is Fire Island Pines: Polaroids 1975-1983, by the photographer Tom Bianchi. Like me, Bianchi began spending time at Fire Island Pines in the early 1970s.

Tom Bianchi, Fire Island Pines, Polaroids 1975-1983

Bianchi used an SX-70 Polaroid camera to documented his friends’ lives in the Pines, amassing an image archive of people, parties, and private moments. This memoir collects those images for the first time, and for many of us, it conjures the sun-soaked magic of a bygone era. Here are a couple of my own memories:

The TV House, Fire Island Pines, 1970s

In the early 1970s, I lived in the “TV House,” so called because it looked like a giant television screen from the beach. 

Scott Bromley in Fire Island Pines early 1970s

Here’s a shot of me and a friend in the Pines from the same period.  

The other book, Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction, by Christopher Rawlins, is an overdue monograph about a little-known architect who was crucial to the development of what we think of as Fire Island beach house style: “Houses of naturally weathering cedar, redwood pavilions set back from the boardwalk, their broad windows serving as prosceniums across which backlighted players in Speedos, or else nothing, played out a specific variant of the theater of late 20th century gay life,” as Guy Trebay put it in the New York Times.

Fire Island Modernist-Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction, by Christopher Rawlins

In the ’60s and ’70s , Horace Gifford (1932-92) built around 40 small, innovative Modernist houses on Fire Island. Although an average Gifford house was only 1,000 square feet, it expanded upward with high ceilings and outward with oversized windows, decks, sun courts, and walkways. It was often seductive, with floor-to-ceiling mirrors, sunken living rooms and conversation pits, and exposed outdoor showers. Gifford was a huge talent and, although I didn’t know him well, a big design hero of mine. Whenever I got the chance, I’d study his architectural drawings closely. Here are some  classic Gifford Fire Island houses:

Fishman House, Horace Gifford, Fire Island Pines,  1965

Fishman Residence, 1965. The house rises above the trees, framing views of the ocean and the bay while screening out the neighbors on Fire Island’s narrow lots. Photograph by Bill Maris.

The Wittstein-Miller Residence, Horace Gifford, 1963, renovated by Scott Bromley, 1983

Wittstein-Miller Residence, 1963. The house was originally presented as a sketch in the sand for its delighted clients, the famed set designer Edwin Wittstein and his partner Robert Miller. Tony Impavido and I now own the house, and my firm Bromley Caldari Architects restored it and added a teahouse and a bedroom suite in 1983. (Here’s a link to a post about another house we designed in the Pines.) Photograph by John Hall.

Crawford House, Horace Gifford, 1968, Fire Island Pines
Crawford Residence, interior, Horace Gifford, 1968, Fire Island Pines

Crawford Residence, 1968. This is the Gifford house I covet the most. It was designed for Jay Hyde Crawford,  a fascinating man who worked as an illustrator for Bonwit Teller, doing a famous redesign of the store’s violet-bouquet graphic before founding Quadrille Fabrics, a high-end textiles and wallpaper company, in the 1960s. Click here to read a great interview with Jay, who died in May this year at the age of 82. 

Sloan House, exterior, Horace Gifford, Fire Island Pines, NY, 1972

Sloan Residence, Horace Gifford, 1972, Fire Island Pines, interior

Around 1980, Calvin Klein bought the Sloan Residence,  Fire Island Pines, NY 1972

Sloan Residence, 1972. This oceanfront home for a family with four young children was one of Gifford’s last significant commissions in the Pines. Around 1980, he expanded for its next owner, Calvin Klein, whose security concerns after the kidnapping of his daughter, Marci, meant a huge privacy fence. (Photograph by Barbra Walz.) The house was also owned by entertainment mogul David Geffen in the 1990s.

MODERN MASTERPIECES, A MID-CENTURY TOUR OF FIRE ISLAND PINES

If the images of Horace Gifford’s wonderful beach houses has whetted your appetite for more, Christopher Rawlins, the author of the Gifford book, has organized Modern Masterpieces, a series of day-long, guided tours of mid-century homes that exemplify the best of Pines modernism. The tours will be conducted on Saturday, August 24th; Sunday, August 25; Saturday, August 31; and Sunday, September 1; plus an abbreviated, free tour on Monday, September 2 (Labor Day).  Click here for more information.

 

Dance Fever: Roy Round’s Iconic Ballet Photography

I live in a very unusual loft building in New York. A former factory, it’s a 103 years old and many of the current residents, who include an artist, a jazz musician, a toy maker, and, until recently, a world-renowned photographer have been here for more than 30 years.  The photographer, our good friend Roy Round, has just moved back to his native London after three decades in his loft, which also served as his studio. I’m reposting this reminiscence of him from my own blog.

Dance photographer Roy Round with Dog

British fashion, celebrity, and  dance photographer Roy Round in the 1960s

Roy started his career during the World War II as an aerial reconnaissance photographer with the RAF in Egypt. After the war he returned to London as an apprentice photographer with Peter Clark Studios. He next joined a small studio and within a couple of years became an active fashion photographer, working on the Paris collections and traveling abroad frequently on assignment for top magazines. He also became accomplished at celebrity portraiture, photographing Anna Magnani, Paul Bowles, Cecil Beaton, Kim Novak, and Sean Connery, among many others.

Raquel Welch, 1967, photographed by Roy Round

Roy took this portrait of Raquel Welch in 1967, when she was in England filming Stanley Donen’s Bedazzled—a comic reworking of the Faust legend in which she famously played Lust.

One of the best parts of knowing Roy is that he has the most extraordinary stories about many of the greats of the 20th century. If a name like Judy Garland comes up in conversation he’ll say, “Did I ever tell you about the time we got drunk together at Sybil Burton’s nightclub?” Once in the 1960s, when he had been detained on a long photo session, his wife  asked, “Why are you so bloody late?” As you can imagine, his truthful reply, “I was having drinks with Raquel Welch,” did not go over well.

Roy’s wife was the English ballerina and ballet mistress, the late Georgina Parkinson, and it is through her and his extraordinary work first with London’s Royal Ballet and subsequently with American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet, that Roy’s name will forever be linked to the world of dance.

Georgina Parkinson as the Empress Elisabeth in the premiere of Kenneth Macmillan's 1978 ballet Mayerling, photographed by Roy Round

British ballerina Georgina Parkinson as the Empress Elisabeth in the London premiere of Kenneth Macmillan’s 1978 ballet Mayerling, photographed by her husband Roy Round.

Roy and Georgina moved to New York in 1980 at the behest of Mikhail Baryshnikov, who installed Georgina as a ballet mistress at ABT.  (She had taught Baryshnikov and Leslie Brown a pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet for the 1977 movie The Turning Point.) That’s when they moved into my building. In their studio loft and other locations Roy photographed Baryshnikov, Natalia Makarova, Gelsey Kirkland, Julie Kent, Ethan Stiefel, Gillian Murphy, Marcello Gomes, and many other ballet greats.

Rudolph Nureyev photographed in London by Roy Round in the early 1960s

Rudolph Nureyev photographed by Roy Round in London in the early 1960s.

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West Side Story: Scott Bromley’s Neighborhood

I live in a loft on West 36th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, at the south end of a neighborhood  that’s variously known as Hell’s Kitchen, Clinton, or Midtown West. The name Hell’s Kitchen dates to the 1800s, when the neighborhood, which traditionally stretched from from the lower 30s to 59th Street, west of Eighth Avenue, was a hotbed of gang violence. The moniker Clinton was introduced in 1959 in an attempt to distance the area from its gritty reputation, which was still deserved as late as the 1980s. These days the only type of gang you’ll see in the streets is a colorful array of friendly kooks in all sorts of attire riding bikes and skateboards, even walking on stilts, doing their thing. The proximity to the Theater District means that the area is home to lots of actors and show people, and because of its central location, Clinton is a community of walkers: Midtown, Broadway, Times Square, the High Line, Macy’s, Penn Station, Madison Square Garden, Chelsea, and the West Village are all close enough to be reached easily on foot.  I particularly like the shopping on Ninth Avenue, which adjoins the Garment District, so there’s a lot of great energy around. Here are some Hell’s Kitchen highlights.

9th Avenue at 36th Street, New York, by Christopher Woodcock
Scott Bromley lives on West 36th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues—at the south end of a neighborhood known variously as Hell’s Kitchen, Clinton, or Midtown West—shot here by the fine photographer Christopher Woodcock.

West 37th & 8th Ave., New York, 2003, photographed by Christopher Woodcock

Another great Christopher Woodcock image, this one of West 37th Street at Eighth Avenue, where the 28-block Garment District, with its signature brick and terra-cotta factory-type buildings, overlaps with Hell’s Kitchen South.

Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC), 450 West 37th Street,photographed by Francis Dzikowski/Esto

Opened in 2005, 450 West 37th Street is a six-story, 46,000-square-foot, concrete-and-glass building designed by the late architect John Averitt to be a versatile, column-free performing-arts hub. It houses the Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) and the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, home to the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Photograph by Francis Dzikowski/Esto.

Jerome Robbins Theater at the Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) at 450 West 37th Street, Hell's Kitchen, photographed by Alexander Severin/Razummedian

The Baryshnikov Center’s main performing space is the 238-seat Jerome Robbins Theater. The renowned Wooster Group is its resident theater company, creating and performing work in the venue three months out of the year. Other programming in the theater emphasizes multi-disciplinary work, emerging talent, and international artists who might not otherwise have the opportunity to perform in the United States. Photographed by Alexander Severin/Razummedian. 

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