NYC Artist Lofts & Brooklyn Rooftops, with Joshua Charow & Josh Katz

05/09/2024Link1

How much do you know about New York City’s 1982 Loft Law, which established a process for artists to obtain legal occupancy of the raw industrial spaces they inhabited, while also providing rent stabilization and protection from future eviction? Or the pigeon fanciers who were once a fixture across the rooftops of Brooklyn and remain valued as neighborhood sentinels?

Above photograph © Joshua Charow

If these poetic vestiges from Gotham’s storied past have you dreaming about the good old days, then you won’t want to miss our podcast with gen-Z New Yorkers (and good buddies) Joshua Charow and Josh Katz.

Their ambitious, self-assigned photo projects explore rarified mini-worlds featuring magical artist spaces and exuding West Side Story vibes.

While their respective explorations occupy opposite ends of the struggle for prized urban space, the insights they share when discussing both their working methods and their paths to publishing are instructive and inspirational. What’s more, their spirited camaraderie in conversation is infectious!

On the Roof – March 21, 2020, 6:52 pm
On the Roof – March 21, 2020, 6:52 pm
On the Roof – March 26, 2020, 7:16 pm
On the Roof – March 26, 2020, 7:16 pm
On the Roof – March 27, 2020, 5:21 pm
On the Roof – March 27, 2020, 5:21 pm
On the Roof – April 6, 2020, 6:08 pm
On the Roof – April 6, 2020, 6:08 pm
On the Roof – April 7, 2020, 3:16 pm
On the Roof – April 7, 2020, 3:16 pm
On the Roof – April 9, 2020, 7:38 pm
On the Roof – April 9, 2020, 7:38 pm
On the Roof – April 11, 2020, 2:35 pm
On the Roof – April 11, 2020, 2:35 pm
On the Roof – April 19, 2020, 5:10 pm
On the Roof – April 19, 2020, 5:10 pm
On the Roof – April 28, 2020, 7:20 pm
On the Roof – April 28, 2020, 7:20 pm
On the Roof – May 1, 2020, 6:26 pm
On the Roof – May 1, 2020, 6:26 pm
On the Roof – May 2, 2020, 7:46 pm
On the Roof – May 2, 2020, 7:46 pm
On the Roof - May 5, 2020, 6:36 pm
On the Roof - May 5, 2020, 6:36 pm
Josh Katz on his Brooklyn rooftop, March 27, 2020, photo © Jeremy Cohen
Josh Katz on his Brooklyn rooftop, March 27, 2020, photo © Jeremy Cohen
On the Roof: New York in Quarantine by Josh Katz, front and back covers
On the Roof: New York in Quarantine by Josh Katz, front and back covers
Josh Katz

As Charow aptly notes toward the end of the episode, “I have to say, I don’t know if this book would exist without Josh Katz. Because I started this project towards the end of him finishing his, and as a close friend, he was able to basically show me the roadmap of how you get from idea to a finished book. And like he said, it’s really hard to understand how that works without someone in your life who can show you the steps you have to take.”

Betsy Kaufman, painter, Tribeca
Betsy Kaufman, painter, Tribeca
Carmen Cicero, painter, The Bowery
Carmen Cicero, painter, The Bowery
Gerald Marks, stereoscopic 3D artist, Midtown
Gerald Marks, stereoscopic 3D artist, Midtown
JG Thirlwell, musician, Dumbo
JG Thirlwell, musician, Dumbo
Kimiko Fujimura, painter, Chinatown
Kimiko Fujimura, painter, Chinatown
Loretta Dunkelman, painter, The Bowery
Loretta Dunkelman, painter, The Bowery
Marsha Pels, sculptor, Greenpoint
Marsha Pels, sculptor, Greenpoint
Winkel, Dumbo
Winkel, Dumbo
Michael Sullivan, filmmaker and builder of robots, Midtown
Michael Sullivan, filmmaker and builder of robots, Midtown
Steve Silver, painter, Williamsburg
Steve Silver, painter, Williamsburg
Joshua Charow stands in Frank & Anne Mason’s Little Italy loft
Joshua Charow stands in Frank & Anne Mason’s Little Italy loft
Book cover - Loft Law: The Last of New York City's Original Artist Lofts by Joshua Charow
Book cover - Loft Law: The Last of New York City's Original Artist Lofts by Joshua Charow
Joshua Charow

And for bonus points, listen up to discover the former guest of the show who also sat down with Charow, and ultimately lined him up with a book agent!

Guests: Joshua Charow and Josh Katz

Sponsored by

Episode Timeline:

  • 4:26: The back story between Josh Charow and Josh Katz’s friendship, and the background to Josh Charow’s Loft Law photo project.
  • 14:11: The timeframe for Charow’s photo shoots and details about his portrait subjects.
  • 20:21: The origins of the New York City loft law and the raw spaces inhabited by artists.
  • 24:14: Josh Katz’s project On the Roof and its origins during COVID.
  • 31:00: Brooklyn pigeon fanciers and the role they play in keeping up the rooftops.
  • 33:56: Josh’s code of conduct and layers of consent for making pictures and sharing them online.
  • 38:25: Episode Break
  • 39:30: Josh Charow’s cameras & lighting gear, and his working methods.
  • 46:00: Josh Katz’s camera, lenses, & 2X extender, and his working process.
  • 47:32: Book publishing, Josh Katz’s Kickstarter campaign, finding an agent, and landing a book deal with Thames & Hudson.
  • 52:46: Josh Charow’s road to publishing, and the help he got from Josh Katz.
  • 54:26: Working with a publisher and the question of creative control.

Guest Bios:

Joshua Charow is a New York City-based filmmaker and photographer. He escaped from suburban New Jersey at age 15 in the quest to climb skyscrapers and walk subway tunnels while photographing the city’s beautiful, hidden locations. These experiences were his introduction to the arts, and informed his style of jumping into the unknown with a camera in hand.

Charow has spent the past three years documenting an exclusive group of artists who have lived and worked under the provisions of the 1982 Loft Law for more than 40 years now. This groundbreaking legislation granted protection and rent stabilization to thousands of artists living illegally in commercially zoned lofts across Manhattan.

His first photography book, Loft Law: The Last of New York City's Original Artist Lofts is published by Damiani Books, and is being accompanied by his debut exhibition “Loft Law: Photographs by Joshua Charow,” opening at Westwood Gallery in New York on May 16th.

The show will include more than thirty of Charow’s photographs alongside select artwork by artists featured in his Loft Law series.

Josh Katz is a documentary photographer, photo educator, and sponsored skateboarder living in Brooklyn. He creates digital photography courses, leads workshops, and makes videos for Canon, teaches Lightroom for Adobe, and shoots YouTube videos about photography.

Outside of his professional vocations, his hobbies include talking to strangers, designing scavenger hunts, baking homemade energy bars, biking the city, reading about anthropology, urban planning, and American history. He’s also trying to visit every U.S. National Park.

In March 2020, after New York City copped the crown as an official pandemic hotbed, Katz made a beeline from his cramped apartment to the roof, only to discover a thriving community of neighbors starting to gather across the shared space of 17 adjacent buildings. During the months that followed, he spent hundreds of hours photographing the rise of roof culture in his Bushwick neighborhood.

His first photo book, On the Roof: New York in Quarantine, was published by Thames & Hudson in November 2021 with the help of a viral Kickstarter campaign.

Stay Connected:

Joshua Charow Website: https://www.joshuacharow.com/
Joshua Charow Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joshuacharow/
Joshua Charow TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@joshcharow
Joshua Charow Twitter: https://twitter.com/joshuacharow/
Joshua Charow YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@joshuacharow
Joshua Charow Loft Law book: https://bookshop.org/p/books/joshua-charow-loft-law-joshua-charow/20878127
Joshua Charow Westwood Gallery Exhibit: https://www.westwoodgallery.com/

Josh Katz Website: https://www.joshkatz.me/
Josh Katz Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joshkatz/
Josh Katz YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/joshkatz
Josh Katz Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/joshkatz
Josh Katz On the Roof book: https://www.thamesandhudsonusa.com/
Josh Katz Skatefolio Project: https://skatefol.io/


Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: Jill Waterman
Senior Producer: Mike Weinstein
Executive Producer: Shawn C Steiner

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