Episode 2 - A Cathedral of Light on the Hudson River

May 21, 2021


Episode 2 - A Cathedral of Light on the Hudson River


Carrie Mae Weems: A public sculpture by the artist David Hammons, called Day’s End, has been permanently installed in the Hudson River. The construction was a collaboration with the Whitney Museum, and the work now belongs to the city of New York. But if you ask David, he’ll graciously tell you that, actually, the sculpture belongs to Gordon Matta-Clark.

Gordon Matta-Clark is the artist who built the original Day’s End on the same spot—Pier 52, on the edge of the Meatpacking District—nearly half a century earlier.

Betsy Sussler: You would have walked into this dark, empty, musty, funky, smarmy place, site that had, you knew, all the potential in the world.

Carrie Mae Weems: Bomb magazine editor Betsy Sussler was with Gordon as he scouted the pier before starting work on the original Day’s End.

Betsy Sussler: I mean, here it was utterly abandoned on the shore of the Hudson in the West Village, which at the time was a huge, gay scene. And gone, “Whoa.” I mean, this is vast, and there’s something very profound happening there because there’s this darkness, but beams of light are coming through little crevices. And Gordon, I think, was drawn to those beams of light.

Carrie Mae Weems: Gordon was an artist, like David Hammons, who used the city as source material. In his best-known work, he transformed buildings with a chainsaw that he used to cut into them. Once, he split an abandoned house in half, cracking open its domestic interior. For Gordon, cutting into the building wasn’t about destroying it but rather re-creating it and encouraging the public to experience them as sculpture. In the case of Day’s End, the work was on a grand scale.

Jonathan Weinberg: Kind of like a hangar space.

Carrie Mae Weems: Artist and art historian Jonathan Weinberg.

Jonathan Weinberg: Imagine a Costco that was emptied of all the stuff, or a gigantic Home Depot. That would be what it’s like.

Jane Crawford: The pier in those days was a meeting place for gay men. It was an enormous pier with a lot of broken glass on the ground and, outside, people were sunbathing. And Gordon went in to transform it, and he put up some signs saying “no trespassing” and “men at work.” And of course, it was just him and maybe one or two other people he convinced to help him.

Carrie Mae Weems: Jane Crawford, wife of the late Gordon Matta-Clark.

Jane Crawford: He went in with the chainsaws and his block and tackle and proceeded to cut it up. And what was most alarming to New York state authorities was that he’d actually cut the pier away from the mainland, so it was there, sort of floating, in the water.

Carrie Mae Weems: Welcome to Artists Among Us, a podcast from the Whitney Museum of American Art that reimagines American art and history. In this season, we take David Hammons’s sculpture, Day’s End, as a starting point. From there, we look into the many histories, mostly now invisible, that have shaped this site on the edge of lower Manhattan.

In episode one, we learned David Hammons used the city to create his work. In this second episode, we dive deeper into the original Day’s End.

Jane Crawford: Gordon liked to say that the layers of how we live in a room are like the layers of skin, and he considered himself a kind of urban archeologist, cutting through these layers to see how people had lived before.

Carrie Mae Weems: Today, we’re traveling backwards in time. We’ll start in 1970s New York City, and go back to when the Lenape were the primary inhabitants of the island, which was then called Mannahatta. Historian Andrew Berman.

Andrew Berman: To me, that’s still what I always think of when I think of the neighborhood, even as cleaned up and glamorized and different as it’s become today.

Carrie Mae Weems: This neighborhood is a stretch of land along the far west side of lower Manhattan, below 14th Street. Historically, it has always been a place of commerce. But when Gordon Matta-Clark created Day’s End, the neighborhood had been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair.

Carrie Mae Weems: Curator Tom Finkelpearl.

Tom Finkelpearl: And I hear people reminiscing about that, or especially young people, thinking about how great it must have been, and you have to remember that a lot of people are getting murdered. There were no jobs. But I think that these kinds of interventions, like what Matta-Clark did, was to see the beauty, or the potential beauty, in this wrecked urban space, and then intervene in a way that allowed you to see it.

Adam D. Weinberg: Matta-Clark wasn’t the only artist working on the piers.

Carrie Mae Weems: Here’s Adam Weinberg, Director of the Whitney Museum.

Adam D. Weinberg: There was actually an exhibition of art made on Pier 18.

Jonathan Weinberg: Pier 18 was really the idea of Willoughby Sharp, who invited twenty-seven male artists to create works of art on Pier 18, which is down by the World Trade Center in what we call Battery Park City now. Sharp’s idea was to ask these various artists to come up with different conceptual pieces.

Vito Acconci’s piece for Pier 18 is really amazing, in which he got his friend and artist Lee Jaffee to blindfold him and then while he’s wandering on the piers, it was Lee Jaffee’s job to make sure that Vito didn’t fall into the water. When this is photographed, it really looks like something from a film noir, as if Jaffee is not trying to keep Acconci from falling into the water, but is leading him to the water or going to kill him, because of the blindfold. Of course, one of the big associations of the waterfront is as a site of mafia corruption and teamster corruption.

Adam D. Weinberg: Artists just kept taking over the piers, long after Matta-Clark’s Day’s End was complete. Even in the early eighties a group of East Village artists transformed Pier 34 into a giant exhibition space.

Jonathan Weinberg: Pier 34 is at the end of Canal Street, and it was “discovered” by David Wojnarowicz, so it’s way down from the so-called sex piers. Basically, what happens is this group of artists squat in this space.

Adam D. Weinberg: Wojnarowicz, Peter Hujar, Mike Bidlo . . .

Jonathan Weinberg: They take it over and they start painting on the walls and creating all kinds of sculpture and installations in this amazing space. At a certain point, it was announced that there would be an opening and all these people are invited to come see the work. The police show up and shut it down.

It’s quite the same thing with Gordon Matta-Clark, I think you have to put your head into the mentality too that artists and young people had in the seventies, which was that the city and the government and the police were the sort of bad guys, and that doing this kind of thing, taking over these spaces was an act of freedom and liberation.

Carrie Mae Weems: Gordon saw an underlying beauty in these abandoned buildings that city planners and politicians simply ignored.

Laura Harris: He grew up in the era of urban renewal projects, large-scale urban renewal projects, in which parts of the city that were considered problems, or irrelevant and unimportant, were essentially razed to make way for fortress-like corporate spaces, and, quite commonly, freeways, bridges, tunnels, and other forms of passage to secure safe travel in and out of the city for suburban commuters.

Carrie Mae Weems: That’s NYU Professor of Media Studies, Laura Harris.

Laura Harris: That’s part of the backdrop for Matta-Clark’s practice, I think, is not wanting to participate in this kind of development, in this use of architecture, which depended in some ways on transforming the city through these brutal renewal projects.

Instead, he attempted to intervene in some ways by opening up what he considered abandoned structures to new possibilities.

Carrie Mae Weems: The Meatpacking District felt very different from the quainter New York neighborhood nearby, the West Village. And yet in many ways, it represents what New York is all about: a wide-ranging mix of people living and working side by side.

Andrew Berman: In addition to the meatpacking businesses, which were still very much there there was also this increasing concentration of these bars and clubs, both sex clubs and dance clubs.

Carrie Mae Weems: And it’s where Florent Morellet ran his in-crowd restaurant from 1985 to 2008. It was a favorite spot for artists, celebrities, and clientele of the neighborhood’s many gay bars.

Florent Morellet: I went to the Mine Shaft, the Anvil. And coming out at two, three, four o’clock in the morning was unlike any other club you came out [of] at that time, because you came out of the clubs, the city was dead. But you came out of those clubs in the meat market, and you had a neighborhood that was packed with traffic jam[s] and trucks, and people are going around yelling at each other like, “Move!” Taxis and meat-packers.

Catherine Seavitt: The meat market still persisted quite long, really until the last few decades, really.

Carrie Mae Weems: Architect Catherine Seavitt.

Catherine Seavitt: So, that brings you to the kind of stench of rotting meat or the smell of the carcasses or the blood from the animals, which are really being carved up inside of these buildings and then trucked around on . . . Not things unlike the garment racks that move around in the fashion district, but actually these would be carcasses rolling along wheeled carts with guys in white aprons wielding them.

Glenn Ligon: A visitor to New York is like, “Why was it called the Meatpacking District?”

Carrie Mae Weems: Artist Glenn Ligon.

Glenn Ligon: I was like, “Because there would be bloody carcasses hung on the street outside of the meatpacking shops that line the streets here.” And there would literally be blood running on the street.

Florent Morellet: In the early days, it stunk, yeah, especially in the warmer weather.

Andrew Berman: When I think of the Meatpacking District, I think of the smell, in terms of what it used to smell like, in part because of all of those meatpacking plants.

Florent Morellet: Rotten blood. But, you know, being close to the river, it’s an area where you have a little bit of breeze. But yeah . . . I mean, I remember whole sides of beef were on those rails.

Catherine Seavitt: There was still a kind of chaotic street life. Of course, the Belgian block that paved all of those streets in the Meatpacking District had a particular rattle for both cars and those carts of meat. So there was very much a kind of loud street life that persisted.

Carrie Mae Weems: When Gordon came to the Meatpacking District, meatpackers had already begun moving out, and the vibrant shipping industry of the early twentieth century was long gone.

Matta-Clark spent a total of three months cutting into the building’s floors and walls with chainsaws, transforming the space. But by doing this, he also temporarily displaced the people who used the piers for sunbathing, socializing, and sex. We’ll spend more time with them in our next episode. And while he was trespassing on their space, he was also legally trespassing. After he finished the work, a warrant went out for his arrest.

Jonathan Weinberg: One of the things that made it so dangerous is that he actually made cuts in the floor to reveal the water, and he made a little bridge. So you would see these big cuts, both on the floor . . . as if the light coming through this huge, arc-like shape had sort of cut holes into the floor—like beams of light had cut holes into the floor.

Laura Harris: The play of light and wind and rain and all the elements he’s allowing in on the structure. The way that it penetrates one hole and exits another hole. The way that the light and shadows and the whole atmosphere of the space changes over the course of the day, from beginning to day’s end is what he’s interested in at that moment.

Jonathan Weinberg: If you stayed there long enough, you’d watch the sun setting, which, to him, was the ultimate narrative of the piece. That’s why it’s called Day’s End because you’re watching the movement of the light through it.

Carrie Mae Weems: Jessamyn Fiore is the . . .

Jessamyn Fiore: . . . curator as well as the co-director of the Gordon Matta-Clark Estate. He really talked and spoke and wrote about Day’s End as a kind of public park, that he wanted it to be experienced through all four seasons. He wanted to see how the light changed in the space for all four seasons. He wanted people to enter the space that was once dark and dangerous and foreboding, and now had been opened up and was a celebration of light and water and just being in this place that is the island of Manhattan. And for people to be able to access that and have that experience, and look at their environment in a new way.

Jane Crawford: Gordon had more energy than all of us here in this room.

Carrie Mae Weems: Jane Crawford was married to Gordon Matta-Clark until his death in 1978 at the age of thirty-five from pancreatic cancer.

Jane Crawford: He was very magnetic, a personality. He was always laughing and joking and very engaging with other people. I used to say he’d go out in the morning to buy the newspaper on the corner and came back with two or three people he’d just picked up on the street. And, you know, they could be anywhere from homeless to students to a nuclear physicist he came home with once.

The pier was lovely inside because you could hear not only the lapping of the water and the boats, the tugboats honking their horns and the little boats honking their horns, but there’s also just this lovely murmur of the city at a distance, which I always found somehow very romantic. You’d hear sirens and cars honking, but always from a distance, so that was like the subliminal soundtrack of the pier, if you will.

Betsy Sussler: The interior, of course, is what Gordon was drawn to. And he wanted to bring light into it. And he never told me until the eleventh hour what environment he had picked to go film, or to go do a piece, or an intervention, or an architectural intervention in. So this really was, one morning, we woke up and he said, “Grab your Super 8, we’re going to go, and I’ve got this whole thing planned.”

Carrie Mae Weems: Betsy Sussler filmed the making of Day’s End.

Betsy Sussler: And there he was with the pulleys and the saws, and I just filmed. I really just caught the action wherever I could, the light coming in.

Jessamyn Fiore: I think when looking at what Gordon was doing with making these cuts in buildings, it’s important to remember that it wasn’t about destruction. He wanted to transform the spaces.

Laura Harris: There’s a level at which he’s interested in imagining what else might a building look like if you let light in this way? What might it feel like if you let sound or wind in in this way? But also what other interactions might emerge if you reshaped buildings or opened them up in this way?

Jessamyn Fiore: And he talked about how he felt, that people, everyday people, were too timid in their own spaces. That in fact, we have the ability to change our spaces, even if that change is by cutting holes in them.

Jonathan Weinberg: He’s one of those artists that he just touches something, and he decides, I’m going to cut this out and then it’s going to be a work of art. I’m very drawn to, I guess, the sort of notion of the artist as an alchemist, which I think is a theme that recurs in his work. To me, that’s what artists do. They’re transformative, they transform things, and they create something that is magical that truly opens up the world . . . creates a kind of moment of freedom. 

Carrie Mae Weems: The artist as alchemist is a useful way of thinking about both Matta-Clark and David Hammons. But their artistic parallels don’t simply stop there.

Laura Harris: One might imagine Hammons’s piece as a picking up of where Matta-Clark left off. What he did was highlight and bring to our attention a kind of practice that he is also inviting us all to take up in our own ways. A creative inhabitation of space, a creative rearrangement of space, for example, a creative reworking of the city to open up the possibilities for how we might perceive and how we might live.

Jessamyn Fiore: I think that the spirit of both Gordon’s work and the David Hammons sculpture is for people to relook at their own urban space, urban existence, to connect with the history of generations that have come before in this place and its architecture. And just the spirit of creativity and art and possibility that is, to my mind, ingrained in this city, in its soil even.

Carrie Mae Weems: The ground beneath Day’s End and the Whitney Museum has a rich and storied history.

Adam D. Weinberg: The Museum is on Gansevoort Street. And Day’s End is just at the end of Gansevoort Street, on the peninsula. In fact, the name goes back to the early nineteenth century. It comes from Fort Gansevoort, which during the War of 1812 to defend against the British—in fact, it was never actually used. And the fort itself was named for a Revolutionary War hero, Peter Gansevoort.

Andrew Berman: Many of the streets in Greenwich Village are named, in fact, for Revolutionary War heroes. All of those named streets that still survive south of Washington Square Park, like Sullivan, Thompson, and MacDougal. Those were Revolutionary War heroes. Colonel Gansevoort was a slaveholder, as were many New Yorkers at the time. New York, interestingly, while it was a center of abolitionist activity, it was also a center of a lot of slave-owning and slave trading.

Adam D. Weinberg: Some of the abolitionist activity in fact took place relatively close to the Museum. There was the African Free School in Greenwich Village, and teachers worked really closely with Black children there to try to get them to think positively about the notion of emancipation, and to prepare themselves for it. And there was also a community around Zion Methodist Episcopal Church, which was in the West Village, which included Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman. And I think the church was also a stop on the Underground Railroad. 

Peter Gansevoort was also Herman Melville’s grandfather. After the Civil War, Melville worked on Gansevoort Street as a customs inspector. He became a customs inspector because Moby-Dick was an incredible financial failure, which most people don’t realize. He was pretty much unemployed, working for four dollars a day, and even adjusted that wasn’t so great. I remember reading that he hated his job, and he said it was “worse than driving geese”—which I find particularly amusing, because the name Gansevoort in Dutch means “the lead goose,” the goose that leads the V that cuts across the sky. And his office was on West Street, right where Gansevoort Street hit the river.

Andrew Berman: As the nineteenth century went on, you had bigger and bigger piers on the west side. The industrial revolution also led to a landfill. So, you had the land being added to and built out, with everything from sort of waste and garbage to dirt and soil. And you certainly saw factories starting to crop up, especially along the waterfront, including in Greenwich Village.

And along the waterfront, in addition to all of these very, very busy piers and the factories, you also had a lot of sailors’ hotels, because you had a lot of folks who worked along the waterfront.

Some of them were quite notorious, had a sort of Barbary Coast kind of flavor to them.

And then interestingly, there were some that were set up by these sort of missionary charitable organizations to give sailors a wholesome, healthy place for them to stay during their time in port.

Catherine Seavitt: The site on which the Whitney now sits used to be Gansevoort Market. It was an open-air market, where commerce, where there was mostly vegetable produce, was brought by horse and cart. And it was an outdoor fruit market, essentially, fruit and vegetable market. And that’s really like the end of the nineteenth century.

Andrew Berman: One of the reasons why it did develop as a market neighborhood was in part because of its proximity to the river, and there used to be these great big piers that were located there. Pier 54, actually, which no longer exists was the pier where the survivors of the Titanic were brought when they were rescued. It’s also where the Lusitania left, where it shipped out of New York on its fateful journey.

Catherine Seavitt: Later, there’s actually a new, enclosed, structured market called the West Washington Market, which goes up just across the street on the Gansevoort Pier, exactly where Pier 52 was located and is now the site of Hammons’s sculpture.

Andrew Berman: These were large, large piers that accommodated the biggest ships of their day.

Catherine Seavitt: That enclosed market was quite novel in many ways, because they could actually start to sell produce that was meat-based or animal-based. So both dairy products as well as meat products could be sold there because of this advent of refrigeration. And it was because of this refrigeration that meat could be safely packaged for the market in these buildings.

Andrew Berman: The High Line was sort of this strange intervention in the kind of dying days of commerce and industry, or at least of that traditional kind of commerce and industry along the West Side.

Catherine Seavitt: Essentially the rail, the trains were running on grade, initially, so at the street level. And there were even, I think it was called the “avenue of death.” It was pretty dangerous for pedestrians who were walking around in the neighborhood because they were basically at risk of being run down by trains. There were even these guys, cowboys on horses, who would try to control pedestrian and horse and wagon traffic from collisions with the train. So they would basically police people and keep them out of the way of the trains when they were oncoming.

Andrew Berman: The funny thing was that they did it, I guess they couldn’t quite see it coming, but certainly at this time period, we were really beginning a pretty dramatic shift away from this method of transporting goods. So, the High Line was built in the thirties. The Second World War happened, and after the Second World War, there was a huge shift away from that kind of transportation.

Then when trucking became the more predominant way of goods like the meats were moved in and out, its proximity to the West Side Highway also was an important part of how and why the Meatpacking District functioned there.

Carrie Mae Weems: John Jobaggy is a third-generation meatpacker and grew up in the neighborhood, watching his father and grandfather do business.

John Jobaggy: When I first came down here, you had a lot of Western European immigrants. And they were primarily guys from farms; they weren’t kids from cities. These were farm kids who came to America—poor kids, like my grandfather—to make a better living for themselves. They weren’t growing up in mansions, coming to New York to be meatpackers, to be butchers.

You got to remember, it went from 15th Street and 9th Avenue over to 10th Avenue, and it went from 15th. Fourteenth Street was the main street. And then you had a few meat companies past Gansevoort Street, from 9th to 13th. So you had them four blocks north, south, and two blocks east, west. And all the buildings, nothing was empty.

Andrew Berman: One of the things that’s so interesting about the neighborhood’s history is how many of the really famous bohemian haunts of the twentieth century were places that were run by Italian immigrants, Irish immigrants. And it was in fact that sort of sense of this close knit, intimate community that existed outside of the contemporary mainstream of American culture and society that really drew a lot of these artists and writers and painters to these places, both the neighborhoods and specifically these bars, coffee houses, cafes.

John Jobaggy: Every store front, big and small, was full. And it was a community, and people loved it, and everybody knew each other, and all the bosses, it was almost like a club. And the bosses would get together. There was a restaurant called Frank’s Restaurant on Washington Street and 14th Street, and the bosses would get together; a lot of them would like to have their little cliques. They would meet every day for breakfast together. And they loved to talk about, “Where’s the pork market? Where’s this market? Where’s the beef, where’s prices going?” And just, socially and business-wise, chat. And they loved it. Loved it.

Andrew Berman: Certainly, I would not say that the neighborhood was without conflicts or tensions. There’s also just a wonderful history of kind of mixing and interaction that really shaped the character of the neighborhood tremendously.

Carrie Mae Weems: This vibrancy in people, sound, in exchange of some kind, has always been part of the neighborhood.

Catherine Seavitt: I think the fascinating aspect of that site in which the Whitney is now planted—the downtown Whitney—is that it’s always been historically a place for trading, a trading place. A place of exchange, a trading post. In fact, it goes all the way back to the Lenape peoples. Sapokanikan is the name of the trading post, which was actually at that very point on the Hudson River shoreline on Manhattan Island.

Alan Michelson: It was called Sapokanikan, which, in the Lenape language, is thought to mean tobacco field or place where tobacco grows.

Carrie Mae Weems: That’s Alan Michelson, a New York City-based artist, and a Turtle Clan Mohawk member of Six Nations of the Grand River.

Alan Michelson: I was fascinated by the fact that the name of that Lenape settlement had survived, and that the Whitney landed on that site four hundred years later. So four hundred years ago, in the early days of the New Amsterdam colony, that area was a beach and a small settlement. There was probably fishing and planting, maybe more than tobacco, and a place of trade. And that was trade that probably included trade not just among the immediate groups of Lenape and the sub nations, but groups like the Haudenosaunee, my ancestors, who were upriver.

Carrie Mae Weems: In the fall of 2019, Michelson had a solo exhibition at the Whitney called Wolf Nation. His idea was to investigate the layered histories of the place and to reveal its Indigenous history. His work reminds us that we stand on land that has a long and complicated history—one that challenges us, one that was not taught to us in school.

Alan Michelson: It’s a significant site, a significant Native site, one of many that basically are covered with concrete and buildings, not just in Manhattan, but across the country. And I just wanted to use that opportunity of showing at the Whitney to bring that history to light.

Carrie Mae Weems: George Stonefish is an elder of the Lenape Nation, and a longtime New Yorker.

George Stonefish: Most New Yorkers, if you ask them what natives met the Dutch, they don’t know. They don’t know it was the Lenape. All they’ll tell you about, we know they sold the island of Manhattan for twenty-four dollars, and that’s the limit of their education. We came from this area, and we were chased ultimately, and settled here, and were chased again. And we were massacred at that one spot where we are presently at right now. And that whole history of going down and so forth, people should know of.

Carrie Mae Weems: Curtis Zunigha is a Lenape Indian.

Curtis Zunigha: Well, that’s kind of the way Lenapehoking was. It wasn’t just one homogenous people. There were common language, and lifeways, and religious ways, but they were still more of a collective than one homogenous group.

Carrie Mae Weems: Eric Sanderson.

Eric Sanderson: If we were here in the early seventeenth century, coming into New York Harbor, we would have seen a long, thin, wooded island, which is, the local people called Mannahatta. Maybe you would have seen Lenape canoes. They would make them out of these tulip trees, these very tall, very straight tulip trees. We think Sapokanikan, near where the Whitney is, is a place where they would cross the river to trade with the people over in Hoboken, and back and forth. You might even have caught a glimpse of a trail that would have gone back into the forest, and then down through Greenwich Village, and then on to the main north, south trail that was on the east side of Manhattan, somewhere around Murray Hill, and so forth. Would have been really extraordinary.

Catherine Seavitt: So it goes from being this site of Lenape exchange, connecting to waterfront and terrestrial voyaging paths, let’s say, or pathways, to this more commercialized produce market and then a meat market, but always about this place of exchange that's tied to both the river, to other transportation systems such as rail and road or trail, all within this little nexus. So it’s a fascinating site.

Carrie Mae Weems: I’m pretty sure that neither Matta-Clark nor Hammons had these histories at the top of their minds when they conceived their versions of Day’s End. But each work, in its own way, opens up a hole or an absence into the day-to-day, inviting reflection on what stories or what histories have passed from view, [been] ignored, or been denied.

Carrie Mae Weems: Artist Glenn Ligon.

Glenn Ligon: I think that sort of idea of the past being present is always in David’s work, partially because the materials he often uses have another life. And so he’s literally taking something that someone else has used, or someone else has discarded, and sort of thinking, making new objects with it.

Carrie Mae Weems: Writer, critic, and artist Luc Sante.

Luc Sante: And I believe that you can’t really live in the present, unless you have the past to look back upon. It would be like deciding that you’re a writer or a student of literature but are unwilling to acknowledge the literature of the past. Obviously, you can’t do that. You’re standing on other shoulders.

Betsy Sussler: It’s that old Faulkner adage, “The past isn’t dead. It’s not even past yet.”

Luc Sante: And it’s the same for things that are less specific, things that are more subjective about the past and about the way it affects you and the things that you see on the street, the stories that are handed down. We don’t just exist in this one present moment. We’re also existing in a spectrum of time.

Narrator: You have been listening to Artists Among Us, a podcast from the Whitney Museum of American Art. Over the next three episodes, our exploration continues: looking more closely at the queer community that frequented the Meatpacking District in the seventies.

Efrain Gonzalez: On the weekends it was full of men. You’d have guys just sitting there, cruising. You would have people bring some Chinese food and you would eat, or drink a beer, smoke a little something, watch the sunset. It was a great place just to sit and watch the sunset. And people would come in with little towels and they would lay the towels down and they would sunbathe on these rotting wooden piers. At night people would just sit there and look at the stars, or cruise one another. You could sit on the pier all the way at the end, be all alone and look back and you could see the city all lit up at night. That was really nice.

Narrator: To learn more about the stories you heard here, visit whitney.org/podcast. You’ll also find Artists Among Us wherever you get your podcasts. Rate, share, tweet, and, if you’re in New York City, across the street from the Whitney, listen and do some time traveling.

The Whitney is located in Lenapehoking, the ancestral homeland of the Lenape. The Whitney acknowledges the displacement of this region’s original inhabitants and the Lenape diaspora that exists today as an ongoing consequence of settler colonialism.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this podcast: Luc Sante, Catherine Seavitt, Betsy Sussler, Laura Harris, Jane Crawford, Jessamyn Fiore, Eric Sanderson, Jonathan Weinberg, Glenn Ligon, Alan Michelson, Andrew Berman, Tom Finkelpearl, Florent Morellet, Adam Weinberg, Curtis Zunigha, and George Stonefish. Thanks also to oral historians Liza Zapol who interviewed John Jobaggy, and Sara Sinclair who interviewed Curtis and George. Special thanks to Elle Necoechea, Sofia Ortega-Guerrero, Aliza Sena, Jackie Foster, and Helena Guzik.

Original music for Artists Among Us and Day’s End was created by Daniel Carter and his collaborators.

This podcast was produced by SOUND MADE PUBLIC, with Tania Ketenjian, Katie McCutcheon, Jeremiah Moore, Mawuena Tendar, and Philip Wood. It was produced in collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art, including Anne Byrd and Emma Quaytman.