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These portraits by Jordan Casteel, now at the New Museum, are like an intimate walk through Harlem

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

Jordan Casteel, James, 2015
Jordan Casteel, "James," 2015

Jordan Casteel's just-opened show at the New Museum, "Within Reach," includes nearly 40 of the artist's large-scale paintings, from her early portraits of classmates at Yale to recent oils of her students at Rutgers.

Jordan Casteel, Yvonne and James, 2017
Jordan Casteel, "Yvonne and James," 2017

But it's the work from her residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2016 and her subsequent "Nights in Harlem" series in 2017 that Harlemites visiting the exhibit will immediately recognize.

Jordan Casteel, Benyam, 2018
Jordan Casteel, "Benyam," 2018

Thirty-one-year-old Casteel, who lives in the neighborhood and had her studio there for a time, found her subjects by walking the streets of her home.

Jordan Casteel, The Baayfalls, 2017
Jordan Casteel, "The Baayfalls," 2017

Although most of the people in her paintings—based on photographs she took of street vendors, small business owners and neighbors—are in public spaces, the portraits have an intimate feel.

Jordan Casteel, Charles, 2016
Jordan Casteel, "Charles," 2016

Take a peek here and if you don't recognize the faces, you'll definitely nod knowingly at the places—from streets such as Malcolm X Boulevard and 125th Street to restaurants including Sylvia's and Benyam.

"Within Reach" is up through May 24.

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