Jay Maisel - On Seeing - "What You See is What You Get"

Jay Maisel’s Current Exhibit - “On Seeing”
July 2015

Vanessa Romanoff

“You know, some people say that they know what they're going to get. Well I've been doing this a very very long time and I know what I'm going to get, but I don't know if I'm going to get it right.” -Jay Maisel

In Chris Maher and and Larry Berman’s interview with Jay Maisel, Jay discusses his thoughts on digital photography in comparison to traditional techniques. You can read the entire interview here. He says,

“I shoot a lot, but I always feel that once you start arbitrarily saying, well lets crop this off, let's move this over, it's not the way I want to play the game. And I think that the essence of it is that I'm really more interested in showing you what's great that's out there, then [sic] showing you how terrific I am in constructing things."

©Jay Maisel

Maisel’s approach to photography is similar to Jay Gould’s work, who was last featured at PhoPa. Both artists begin with a foundational appreciation for naturally occurring patterns. While Gould’s images show conscious connections to inform the viewer, Maisel presents a fraction of a second in the natural world for the viewer to interpret on her own. Maisel states “Images are everywhere, you just have to be open to them - what you see is what you get.”

Individual perception will depend on the viewer’s own background and experience; a person who grew up in New York City in the 50s may recognize specific locations; a Millennial may be drawn in by the striking and intimate images taken with film, now printed digitally. I wonder what it must be like to watch a city grow and evolve over several decades - especially an eccentric metropolitan icon like New York City. Gould’s work is a reminder that, when viewed through a thoughtful lens, any subject matter can be timeless.

I predict that his show will conjure the visceral memories I still carry from living in the city years ago, and I look forward to learning more about it from his lens.




Vanessa Romanoff is the Gallery Assistant at PhoPa. She also works for a local performing arts nonprofit, helping to build bridges between the arts and public, private and continued education in the community.