Photographer captures nature and decay in Gowanus

Wild canal: Photographer Miska Draskoczy stands by the Gowanus Canal, which has been his muse for the past two years as he photographed the neighborhood.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

It is Gowanus after dark.

“Gowanus Wild,” a photography exhibit opening at Ground Floor Gallery on Oct. 10, showcases the titular neighborhood’s natural, nighttime side. The roving cameraman behind the show said the project grew out of a love for nature and the weird urban decay of the blocks surrounding the murky depths of the Gowanus Canal.

“Walking around at night I just got hooked on these eerie scenes,” said Miska Draskoczy, a filmmaker and photographer who lives on the border of Park Slope and Gowanus. “I spend a lot of time upstate, and so these walks just felt like urban hikes.”

The photos show a side of Gowanus that gets lost in the constant discussion of the canal’s toxic sludge and polluted waters. Flowers, trees, and even birds co-mingle with wire fences, graffitied brick walls, and long-forgotten traffic cones, all captured under the creepy cover of night.

Draskoczy moved to Gowanus in 2008, and has been has been photographing the neighborhood’s wildest and most remote corners since 2012. He was already working in the film industry, but that year, he decided to take a photography class and his first assignment was to photograph his “happy place,” he said.

So Draskoczy began prowling around the deserted, industrial streets of Gowanus at night, snapping shots of plants, wildlife, and urban decay. That project has now bloomed into an increasingly successful side career.

“I just went with my gut,” he said. “It’s changed a lot, but back then you could walk around all night and not run into anyone.”

“Gowanus Wild” is the first solo show at Ground Floor Gallery since it opened in Park Slope in April this year. One of the founders of the gallery said Draskoczy’s work is a perfect fit for the gallery’s mission to serve art in the neighborhood.

“The area is changing so fast that already some of the sites in his photographs no longer exist or have changed,” said Krista Saunders, director of Ground Floor, singling out a photograph of the Coignet Building and the lot that now holds Whole Foods.

“We really wanted to jump on it first and we love that we’re the first ones to show the whole series,” she said.

The exhibit will run until Nov. 9, when Draskoczy plans to lead a walk around Gowanus to showcase some of the areas he has photographed.

“Gowanus Wild” opening reception at Ground Floor Gallery (343 Fifth Ave. between Fourth and Fifth streets in Park Slope, www.groun‌dfloo‌rbk.com). Oct. 10 at 6:30 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhuro‌witz@‌cnglo‌cal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz

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