ARTIST STATEMENT: Where some people see filth, Mark D Phillips sees artistry.
Mark’s 25-year photographic documentation - “25 Years of Gowanus: As it WAS, As it IS” - was featured during the Gowanus Open Studios Tour 2017.
Mark happened upon the Gowanus Canal in 1992, just a couple of years after moving to Cobble Hill from Florida. The waterway became a long-term photographic project, continuing throughout his 40-year career as a photojournalist. Now designated a Superfund site, the Gowanus Canal has a beauty that Mark has captured in its abandonment, grunginess, and now its resurgence.
In his early years photographing the canal, it had an eerie quality, with collapsed structures lining its banks; ISBrandtsen’s old shipping line pier, once one of the busiest in the world, barely remained above the surface of the water, a testament to the decline. The old Central Power Station of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company was built in 1896 and stands empty on the east bank, a grand skeleton looming high over the water. Purchased by a philanthropist, construction is underway with plans to turn it into art studios and exhibition space. Old metal piers have vanished and the silos that stood by the Carroll Street Bridge have transformed into high-end apartment complexes.
The oil still floats atop the water, joined by canoes and paddle boards. There are times when the colorful sheen stretches from bulkhead to bulkhead at the Ninth Street Bridge, creating a mosaic that resembles some of Tiffany’s finest stained glass. When the water is calm, the city reflects across its mirrored surface.
Perhaps, one day, it will become something more than an oddity.
Dump No Waste 2016 Ink press Metallic Gowanus Canal Storm Drain with fish placque warns of the consequences of waste. www.southbrooklyn.com/gowanus25
Eagle Clothes 1994 Inkpress Satin Eagle Clothes sign against sunset in the Brooklyn sky above the Gowanus Canal. Eagle had been around for awhile when the Gowanus plant opened in June of 1951. On opening day, Mayor Impellitteri cut th
Low Tide Junk 1996 Digital C-Print behind plexiglass Low tide metal garbage by Carroll Street Bridge of Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY, in the late 1990's. The water was white from milk being dumped in the canal by an ice cream company. www.southbro
ISBRANDTSEN 1996 Digital C-Print IS Brandtsen pier collapsed into Gownaus Bay at the end of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY. American Export-Isbrandtsen Lines, New York, was the leading US-flag shipping company between the U.S. eas
The Red Pier 1994 Ink press Metallic A Red Metal shed on a pier in the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY, in the early 1990's. southbrooklyn.com/gowanus25
Reflections of an Earlier Time 1992 Ink pres Satin Reflections in the Gowanus Canal with the Twin Towers peaking over the warehouse building at left. All the buildings on the left bank in the picture are now gone. southbrooklyn.com/gowanus25
Carroll Street Bridge 1998 Ink pres Satin Graffitti adorns buildings around the Carroll Street Bridge over Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY. All of the buildings are replaced by new construction. southbrooklyn.com/gowanus25
Gowanus Canal - St Agnes Church School 1996 Ink press Satin In 1996, the church, in conjunction with the Carroll Gardens Association and the Gowanus Canal Development Corp., wanted to develop the school into low-income senior housing. But the plan never got of
Jellyfish Eyes! 1998 Ink press Metallic A jellyfish swims along the top of the water in the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY with its "eyes" in the air. southbrooklyn.com/gowanus25
Gowns Scrap 2016 Metallic Print under acrylic glass A crane lifts scrap at Benson Scrap Metal from piles to load a barge on the Gowanus Canal at Sunset. southbrooklyn.com/gowanus25
Gowanus Flower 1996 Ink press Metallic Flower floats on oil covered dirt at low tide in the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY. southbrooklyn.com/gowanus25
A New Beginning 2016 C-Print under acrylic glass 365 Bond Street brought high end living along the banks of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY, and was filled almost immediately upon its completion in April 2016. southbrooklyn.com/gowanus25
Gowanus Swirls 2017 Metallic Print under acrylic glass Oil patterns form colorful SWIRLS on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY, changing constantly. southbrooklyn.com/gowanus25
Gowanus Woman 2017 Ink press Metallic Oil patterns form the shape of a woman on the surface of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY. southbrooklyn.com/gowanus25
Gowanus Africa 2017 Ink press Metallic Oil patterns form the shape of the continent of Africa on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY. southbrooklyn.com/gowanus25
Gowanus Leaf 2017 Ink press Metallic Oil patterns form the shape of a leaf on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY. southbrooklyn.com/gowanus25
Third Street Basin Mural 2017 Ink press Metallic The mural on Dykes Lumber in the Third Street Basin reflects like a Van Gogh painting in the Gowanus Canal. southbrooklyn.com/gowanus25
Gowanus Beauty 2017 Metallic Print under acrylic glass A mural creates a beautiful design as a reflection in the Gowanus Canal in the Third Street Basin. southbrooklyn.com/gowanus25
Oil Dinosaurs 2017 Ink press Metallic Oil patterns form the shapes of dinosaurs on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY. southbrooklyn.com/gowanus25
Hermes Foot 2017 Ink press Metallic The Winged Foot of Hermes made from oil patterns on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY, 2017. southbrooklyn.com/gowanus25