Julio Mitchel combines documentary and art in one single, powerful vision. He is the sublime witness of what he terms “the theatre of life.” New York Nights, an exhibition of black and white vintage photographs on view at Candela Gallery till May 26, exemplifies the power and longevity of Mitchel’s eye as well as his technical craftsmanship.
As a photographer, Mitchel achieves something remarkable: his subjects either don’t know he is there or they don’t care. This results in highly intimate and generous images of strangers on the street, in train stations, churches, synagogues, in drag queen dressing rooms, bars and at amusement parks.
Curiosity drives Mitchel to his subjects, taking him through the depths of New York as well as around the world to Latin America, Northern Ireland, Beirut, and the Middle East. The vein that threads his fifty some years of photographs, world travels, and various photo narratives, is his undaunted respect for the people in the frame, no matter what their circumstance. “Treat your subject with dignity…,” he has said passionately, “otherwise don’t photograph them.”
Born in Cuba, Mitchel came to New York at age 17, after the Cuban Revolution. He has twice received National Endowment for the Arts grants and New York Foundation grants. His work is in major collections internationally, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Corcoran Gallery and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Mitchel also taught for many years in the quintessential New York art programs at Cooper Union, School of Visual Arts, and the New School, thus influencing a legacy of young photographers.