PARADISE LOST Bushwick Era Disco is an intimate journey to the pandemonium and paradise of the 1970s through early 1990s New York City. Meryl Meisler documented a tumultuous time in NYC’s history – epidemics of arson, crime, crack, and AIDS, intensified by a paralyzing blackout, political and fiscal crisis. Frequenting Manhattan’s legendary discos that arose amongst disorder, she captured hedonistic havens, celebrities, and revelers of the night. In contrast, daylight revealed the beauty of those who loved and thrived in burnt-out Bushwick, where she was a public school art teacher who photographed what she saw. Her effervescent images are personal memoir – love letters filled with compassion and humor mixed with angst, kept secret for decades until she retired from teaching.
Meryl Meisler was born 1951 in the Bronx and raised on Long Island, NY. Inspired by Diane Arbus, Jacques Henri Lartigue, her dad Jack and grandfather Murray Meisler, she studied photography with Cavalliere Ketchum at The University of Wisconsin–Madison, and with Lisette Model in New York City. Meisler frequented and photographed the legendary New York discos. A 1978 CETA Artist Grant supported her portfolio on Jewish identity. Upon retiring from 31 years as a NYC public school art teacher, she began releasing previously unseen work, including her books, A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick (Bizarre, 2014), Purgatory & Paradise: SASSY ‘70s Suburbia & The City (Bizarre, 2015) and New York PARADISE LOST: Bushwick Era Disco (forthcoming 2021). She has exhibited at the Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Museum, Dia Art Foundation, MASS MoCA, New Museum, New York Historical Society, Whitney Museum, and numerous public spaces. Meisler lives in New York City and Woodstock, NY. ClampArt represents her work.