In 1979 and 1980, Joe Maloney, who wasn’t really known for taking pictures of people, decided to take some shots in the beach town of Asbury Park, N.J.
“I didn’t really fit into the Hamptons. I was driving around in a Pinto at the time, and everyone else was driving a BMW,” Maloney said. “I wanted to do something different, and I started going down to Asbury Park because it was a funky kind of place. It wasn’t a ‘beach boy’ beach town; it was a ‘greaser’ beach town.”
Maloney is hardly loyal to one aesthetic, process, or format of photography. He shot “Asbury Park and the Jersey Shore, c. 1979” as well as his other series with a range of cameras including an 8x10 to the Plaubel and was a fan of the dye-transfer process before educating himself on the wonders of Photoshop. Maloney received his first camera from his father, who was in the FBI. Drafted into the Army, Maloney tested tanks and took a lot of pictures of people who were “really beating the shit out of these tanks.” A major heard about the pictures and ended up making large prints out of the negatives.
When he got out of the Army, Maloney eventually became a member of Light, the groundbreaking gallery in New York with a big-name roster, including Stephen Shore and Mitch Epstein.
But in the early 1980s, Maloney bought a country house and became interested in renovating it. Disenchanted with the gallery scene in New York, he and his wife had kids and eventually left New York City completely. “I was still making stuff, just making other stuff,” he said. Apart from renovating the house, “stuff” included making furniture, specifically Windsor chairs, and photographing his kids at baseball games and ballet recitals.
Through a series of serendipitous events, including the purchase of a drum scanner he bought from the son of a friend he knew in New York followed by a gallery show in Berlin of his dye-transfer portfolio, Maloney’s Asbury Park work suddenly was able to see the light of day.
“Frankly, it’s way overdue,” Maloney said. The work is on view at Rick Wester Fine Art in New York through Aug. 16.
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