Neil O. Lawner
The New York Character: A gallery-wide show exploring the energy, eccentricities and eccentrics that give New York City its unique character.
EXHIBITION DATES: June 7 – July 1, 2017
OPENING RECEPTION: Tuesday, June 6, 2017, from 6pm to 8pm. All are very welcome.
On a street corner in Chelsea, New York, a man sits in a wheelchair selling newspapers. I live in the neighborhood and walk by him every day, and every day I would notice that he wore a different, elegant three-piece suit. I was intrigued by the juxtaposition of this man and his surroundings, and I asked for permission to take his picture. Thus began my photographic project of Steve Malek, the newspaper man. I wanted to know his story, and understand why he dressed the way that he did, and this is what he told me: “My name is Steve Malek. I live in a homeless shelter. I came to this country in August 2013, looking for justice and help for handicapped people who are suffering discrimination and despair in my country Gabon, in Africa. I wear a suit every day, even in rain and snow, because I believe that in order to live in greatness and prosperity, one must exercise greatness and prosperity in how they think, speak, act and dress. People like myself, handicapped people and people who are facing challenges, need to express to the world boldly, what they feel and need from the world. I also dress like this in cold weather to show that, although the cold is a challenge, handicapped people can cope with challenges just like anyone else. We have to respect and help each other to maintain a peaceful world. This is my way to draw attention to the situation and hopefully a good samaritan will notice and maybe help us. Thank you.”