Randy Hage has been visiting New York twice a year since the late 90s, but he is not attracted by the city’s iconic buildings and tourist attractions found on maps and guide books. Rather, the Los Angles born artist has been drawn to the city’s “mom and pop” shops and their hand painted signs and weathered patinas that have become an integral part of the native New York community. Hage began photographing them, but before long it became apparent that many of these shop were going out of business and replaced by swanky restaurants and chain stores.
Randy Hage, who builds models and props for movies and television, decided to use his skills as a set designer to immortalize these disappearing stores. Hage started making painstakingly detailed scale models of the storefronts he photographed. “It became a way of documenting the processes of gentrification and urban renewal,” he said.
A 1:12 scale model of a store front built by Randy Hage.
“Over the past 15 years, I have photographed over 700 storefronts,” Hage told The Guardian. “More than half of those have moved or have gone out of business. Through my work, I try to honour these storefronts and the people who lived in them, and served their community.”
“In some cases, these shops have served the people of New York for decades. They are almost like characters in the story of everyday life in the city.” he said.
Hage’s models include some legendary New York haunts from yesteryear, such as the famed music venue CBGB, which closed in 2006; Pearl Paint, a renowned art shop that closed in 2014; and ZigZag Records, which closed in 2011.
Fortunately, some of the business Hage chose recreate are still in business such as the iconic Katz’s Delicatessen, and McSorley’s Old Ale House, the oldest Irish pub in the city and one of New York’s best watering holes.
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