Review of Bronx Portraits in WSJ

Small-Town Americana and Far-Flung Adventure

By William Meyers

David Katzenstein: Bronx Portraits: 2003 + 2012

Bronx Museum of the Arts 
1040 Grand Concourse, (718) 681-6000 
Through April 7

Jane Addams Vocational High School, according to recent statistics, has a student body of 1,279 members, of which 97.9% are minorities; 81% to 90% are from households that receive public assistance; and only 52% graduate. A decade ago, the school was awarded a small grant that allowed it to stage “Grease,” its first musical and one that was relevant to the teenagers involved. The director asked David Katzenstein to document the production, and 23 of his color portraits of cast members are on display, as well as 11 portraits he took when the cast was reassembled in 2012. The before and after pictures are the most interesting, revealing the changes made by time.

Happily, from what one can tell looking at their pictures, the cast members who returned are doing well. Raymond seems more relaxed, cheerier. Samuel matured considerably. Channon is wearing the same gold cross, but her outfit is more sophisticated. Ibrahim now has tattoos on his forearms, Michael took off his do-rag and Tanisha took off her glasses, although she has the same sweet smile before and after. One wonders about those who did not return. 

—Mr. Meyers writes on photography for the Journal. See his work at williammeyersphotography.com.

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