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Powder Goes to New York

Dave and Steve’s big adventure in New York City was a complete and total success. Not only did our photo editor find a nice new suit (you should have been there for the truly touching moment—a ski bum’s first suit), but we stumbled upon a rocking hillbilly/blues band late one night in the East Village, found a vintage fitted Orioles cap for me, ate the best bagels I’ve had in years, drank way too much coffee, saw John Cusack and Uma Thurman sucking face in the bar of our hotel, and, most important, hung 40 of the coolest ski photos on the walls of Nikon’s gallery at Rockefeller Center.

The only think New York has in common with skiing is vertical, lots of vertical, so it didn’t seem to make much sense when a friend at Nikon suggested last spring that we take over the gallery for the month of December. First, although we have readers in New York, we don’t have anywhere near as many as in, say, Denver. Second, short of the ego gratification of having our photography hanging in a gallery, we wouldn’t see a huge return on whatever money we’d spend on prints, travel, etc.

But then we got to thinking, and the things we thought were these:

1. Most people have no idea how wonderful skiing is or more people should ski.

2. Most people have no idea how beautiful and artistic ski photography is or we’d sell more copies of Powder.

Thinking these things, we came to the conclusion that having this exhibit at Nikon House would be a good thing. Maybe we’d be doing the sport a service and maybe, with 1,500 people streaming through the gallery’s doors every day in December, we’d even sell a few more magazines.

So we did it. We picked 40 great images, printed them, sent them to a framer in New York, and then, on the Monday after Thanksgiving, installed them. On Tuesday morning we ran around Soho trying to find Dave’s new suit, which turned up in the afternoon on the second floor of Macy’s in midtown, and then in the evening we had an opening night reception at the gallery for the press and other Manhattan muckety-mucks.

All through the process of preparing for the exhibit, I had been concerned that jaded New Yorkers might be unimpressed with the photography, that our little photos of snow and sky would leave them unmoved. Thankfully, their reaction at the opening was quite the opposite: They were blown away by both the beauty and sophistication of the pictures. Not only that, but they were blown away by the sheer bravado of what the skiers were doing—jumping off cliffs, arcing down steep slopes, wallowing in overhead pow—and the magnificence of the landscapes. All the things that David and I see every day, either in photos or actually in front of our faces, were extraordinary to the people who lived in the city. The world of those photographs was wild and almost beyond imagination to these mostly non-skiers.

The response of the people at the reception made me look at the photos and the sport with new eyes. I’m not saying that I take skiing and Powder’s photography for granted or that I don’t appreciate how special they are, just that stepping outside our little world gave me a striking—and refreshing—new perspective. I’ve always thought we were onto something pretty special with this skiing thing; going to New York and seeing the looks of wonder on the faces at the opening reminded me of that many times over.

You have in your hands the best photos in our files. Although I try to thank the photographers often, I want to once again offer a very special thanks to those who entrust us with their slides. These men and women are damn good at what they do, and I hope this issue does justice to their work.

First published in Powder Magazine, issue 22.6, February 1994. Copyright Steve Casimiro 2001. All rights reserved.

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