As a staff photographer for The New York Times from 1955 to 1991, Neal Boenzi photographed religious and secular moments of the city to show the enduring and entertaining humanity of New Yorkers.
This week, “Vintage Boenzi” goes on exhibit in Manhattan at the Jadite Galleries, which its organizers hope will whet the public’s appetite for more of Mr. Boenzi’s work. David Gonzalez has written an appreciation called “King of the Streets,” which is excerpted below:
“I think Boenzi is one of the best photographers who ever walked through the doors of The New York Times,” said Nancy Lee, his former editor and now vice president and executive editor of The New York Times News Service.
Born in Brooklyn 88 years ago next week, Mr. Boenzi dropped out of college to serve in the Marine Corps during World War II. He returned stateside in 1946 and landed a job as an office boy at The Times, where he soon became a lab assistant. He attended photo school — briefly.
“I thought it was a complete waste of time,” he said. “I just listened to the old-timers at the paper. I learned more from them and the printers in the lab.
Friend and colleague Librado Romero observed, “He was an intelligent photographer with the eye of an artist…He could make something from nothing. And he had a sense of anticipation. He could understand the potential of a situation.”
The November 2013 show “Vintage Boenzi” at the Jadite Galleries in Manhattan can be viewed online.
Click here for David Gonzalez’s full article, more religious and secular images and a very nice video interview with Boenzi.