Get Into the Swim of Things with “SPF 16”

Photo: Tobias Hutzler, McCarren Pool, New York, 2014, Courtesy of Tobias Hutzler.

Coney Island, Brighton Beach, the Rockaways—the beaches that stretch 14 miles across the coast of New York have become an essential part of the city’s scene and culture. From Orchard Beach in the Bronx, which was proclaimed “The Riviera of New York” when it was created in the 1930s to Fort Tilden Beach in Queens which was built in 1917 to protect New York Harbor from air and sea attacks during World War I, the sand covered waterfront of the city has become the ultimate getaway without ever leaving home.

Also: Profile | Thomas Roma: In the Vale of Cashmere

Combine this with some 55 outdoor pools spread throughout the five boroughs and you have a recipe for fun in the sun for the price of subway fare. The pool official reopen on June 29, 2016, launching a new season for the millions of residents who want a quick escape from the sweltering city streets.

Thomas Roma, From Sunset Park, 1992, Brooklyn, NY, ©Thomas Roma, courtesy of the Steven Kasher Gallery

In celebration of the aquatic pleasures of city life, Central Park’s Arsenal Gallery, New York, presents SPF 16: NYC Pools and Beaches in Contemporary Photography on view at now through August 26, 2016. Exhibiting artists include Juliana Beasley, Damion Berger, Rona Chang, Bruce Davidson, Tobias Hutzler, Bruce Katz, Michael Kirby Smith, Wayne Lawrence, Greg Miller, Christine Osinski, Thomas Roma, and Lauren Wells.

Brooklyn native Thomas Roma is exhibiting work from Sunset Park, his series made from deep within the borough during the 1990s. The black and white scene is one of classic horseplay, as five teenage boys grab at each with the clear intent to throw one another into the shallow end of the pool. This makes for a beautiful contrast with Greg Miller’s series from Asser Levy Pool (Manhattan), made in 2010, which shows a teenage boy and girl poolside in a poignant moment of repose.

Lauren Welles, Hanging Out, Coney Island, 2013, Courtesy of Lauren Welles

Lauren Welles’s Hanging Out, Coney Island (2013), takes us to the beach, away from the water, up in the sand where boys workout and play. Juliana Beasley shares a scene from Rockaway Beach (Queens) with Bernadette and Bryan (2008), an older woman and a younger man, who snuggles closely with a long haired white dog that goes unnamed.

But perhaps it is the photographs of Tobias Hutzler that are the most intriguing; his aerial views of Coney Island, New York (2014) and McCarren Pool, New York (2014) are delightful affairs, giving us a God’s eye view of the leisurely pleasures of life during the summer. Taken as a whole, SPF 16 is a glorious reminder that the good life is closer than you may know.

Greg Miller, Untitled, From the Series Asser Levy Pool, 2010, Courtesy of Greg Miller


Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.

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