And then there is 4th Street Photo Gallery. Located for some 30 years on the same stretch of urban pavement between the Bowery and Second Avenue in the East Village, this inconspicuous store-front gallery cum meeting space has been a quiet locus of activity, providing numerous photographers with their earliest opportunities to put their work on public display. Indeed 4th Street, as it is commonly referred to, has often seemed to be something more akin to the neighbourhood barbershop. In the community, one not only goes to the barbershop to get a haircut, but to engage in the social repartee that usually takes place in that enlivened social space. And so it has been 4th Street. While the ostensible business is the business of exhibiting photographs, regular habitues also know that a few minutes spent there will usually find you engaged in a lively exchange with other regulars who are just likely to spontaneously drop by. Of such things are communities made, and from such encounters do new communities spring.
The 4th Street Photo Gallery, established in 1973, is one of New York City's only ground-floor alternative exhibitions spaces for both emerging and professional photographers. Each year it provides individual artists access to grants, fellowships, publishing and exhibition opportunities. In addition to exhibiting work, the gallery provides portfolio reviews, professional consultation and an environment where artists can meet and share ideas. Through the efforts of director Alex Harsley, the gallery maintains an accessible visual arts oasis in one of Manhattan’s more ethnically and socially diverse neighborhoods.