By Dominic Gwinn
Roosevelt’s Gage Gallery welcomed its newest photography exhibit, Rooftop: Second Nature, by Brad Temkin, on Feb. 9. The gallery highlights the rarely seen garden spaces hidden on rooftops throughout the world.
Rooftop’s focus is to show seemingly invisible presence of nature within the urban landscapes. As cities continue to grow in size and presence, architects and planners are increasingly incorporating natural spaces within the developments of cities, though these spaces are often largely invisible. Temkin’s goal with Rooftop is to shine a light on these uncommon gardens.
“When I first started this, when a person would say, ‘green roof’, literally they thought of the color green being painted on,” Temkin said in speaking with the Torch about some of the hardships he faced in completing the project. “There was one picture I made at a Best Buy where I had to climb up this ladder up to the top, and I had to bring my equipment up. I had to go up and down this ladder four times carrying equipment. By the fourth time my arms were burning.”
Through aerial photography and urban exploration, Temkin’s work shows the almost private spaces nestled quietly atop skyscrapers in Switzerland, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, including Chicago’s City Hall and Roosevelt itself.
“I really like his way of connecting to your environment,” said Liz Serrata, 26, an elementary art teacher. “You look at these things and you don’t ever think about them. For him, he sees a completely different world and how we affect the environment and vice versa.”
Julia Ponce, a 22 year-old an exchange student from Spain, expressed her admiration for Temkin’s concentration on advocacy, and how the gallery helped show how a city can come together in unexpected ways through something as simple as a small garden in the middle of urban sprawl.
“This is actually saying something about how a city can be sustainable,” said Ponce. “It goes farther than just the beauty of photography.”
As Roosevelt senior Larnel Cox, 33, a marketing major, stated that, as a fan of rooftop green spaces, he was interested to see the exhibit through Temkin’s eyes, and to expose himself to new ideas.
“I know that the university here has rooftop gardens, and I’ve been up to some of the other buildings, like City Hall with them. I was interested to what they looked like,”Cox said. “I’m going to think about trying to incorporate some things if I ever get to a point where I have some rooftop space…maybe incorporate a garden – taking the actual garden that’s in my home and putting some of it on the rooftop.”
The exhibit can be viewed at Roosevelt’s Gage Gallery now through May 6.