The Rhythm of the Streets
Seven Questions with Josh Goldstein

How would you describe what you do?

Mostly I collect pieces of the New York streets.  I do this with my camera, but I'm not a photographer, it's just a tool to gather up what I need.  I'm fascinated by the mixed-up quality of most New York streets -- the classic storefronts, the crappy new signs, the graffiti and street art and ubiquitous tags, the posters, stickers, advertisements, and the textures of the buildings and sidewalks.  It's not always pretty, but to me it's vibrant and infinitely interesting.  I kind of think of my pieces as a jagged memory of a whirlwind bike ride through the city's most diverse and densely-populated neighborhoods, but with a stop or two in a quiet hidden
garden or beach.

When did you start?

Sort of as soon as I could hold a crayon.  It goes all the way back to my trips as a child to NY to visit my grandmother.  My parents always wanted to take me to museums, shows, or the Statue of Liberty, which of course I love them for, but all I ever wanted to do was walk the streets.  I would soak it all in and go back to Indiana and draw scenes of the city until my next trip.

But I started this particular phase of my obsession about 8 or 9 years ago, photographing hundreds of the iconic NYC bodegas all over town.

How has the work evolved?

I started out creating single bodega images mounted onto 5"x5" wood squares.  Since then, the pieces have gotten steadily bigger and more complex, almost sculptural.  The fragmented nature of my work arose out of necessity though.  I wanted to make larger pieces, but was constrained by a pretty bad 8 1/2x11 inkjet printer, and a tiny work space.  It seemed to me that splicing together a lot of sheets to make a large piece would look like I was trying to hide something.  So instead I decided to blow the whole thing up and make each joint a real fracture in the image, with the result being a multi-planar piece.  This also has the advantage that I can create very large pieces in a very small space because most of what I do is work on individual small squares of wood.

Any remarkable milestones?

Last summer I got to design a huge billboard in Times Square for Target.  It was up for 2 months, and let's just say I had my share of knishes from the guy on the corner of Broadway and 43rd when all was said and done.

How do you think the recent recession has affected your work?

I'm making smaller, simpler, less collage-intensive pieces.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on a couple of top secret merchandising ideas that I think the kids will like.  I can't say much about this right now but I'll leave you with this: toilet paper.

What are you looking forward to?  What's next?

A: I'm looking forward to making even larger pieces, especially in the public realm.  I'd also like to do what I do here in New York in other cities.  LA, Chicago, Mexico City, and Sao Paulo come to mind. Anyone want to trade apartments for a year?

Josh Goldstein lives and works in Brooklyn, and has been represented by JLA since 2006.  His background and samples of his work can be found in the artists' section of www.janlarsenart.com