Virtual Gallery Talk with Melissa O’Shaughnessy

The Sidewalk Ballet

Join MAS on Wednesday, July 13, at 5:30 PM as we explore photographer Melissa O’Shaughnessy’s new exhibition The Sidewalk Ballet. The photography collection is the most recent exhibition at the Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Digital Gallery. Melissa will be in conversation with MAS President, Elizabeth Goldstein. The pair will discuss Melissa’s process of documenting people as they move around New York City’s built environment and how the exhibition embodies the vitality that pedestrians bring to the city’s urban space.

If you missed this event, you can watch a recording of it on the MAS YouTube Channel.

About the Exhibition

O’Shaughnessy’s work captures people as they move with and around one another through New York’s built environment. The Sidewalk Ballet is inspired by Jane Jacobs’ concept of the sidewalk ballet, the vitality and character that pedestrians bring to urban public space just by the act of moving through it.

“The stretch of Hudson Street where I live is each day the scene of an intricate sidewalk ballet. This order is all composed of movement and change, and although it is life, not art, we may fancifully call it the art form of the city and liken it to dance—not to a simple-minded precision dance with everyone kicking up at the same time, twirling in unison and bowing off en masse, but to an intricate ballet in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole. The ballet of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place, and in any one place is always replete with improvisations.” – Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Wednesday, July 13
5:30 PM

Zoom Webinar


Fifth Avenue, 2018. Photo by Melissa O'Shaughnessy. Modifications: photo cropped.

About the Speakers

Melissa O’Shaughnessy, Featured Artist

Melissa O’Shaughnessy was born in 1960 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and studied at Georgetown University and the University of St. Thomas, graduating with a degree in journalism. She is now a photographer based in New York City. Her work has been featured in numerous international exhibitions and publications, and is included in the book Bystander: A History of Street Photography and the recently published Women Street Photographers. She is a member of UP Photographers, a collective of 25 international street photographers. Her first monograph, Perfect Strangers: New York City Street Photographs, was published by Aperture in October 2020.

Elizabeth Goldstein, President, MAS

Elizabeth joined MAS as its President in February 2017. She has an extensive background in parks and historic preservation advocacy and management. Throughout her career, Elizabeth has worked to insure transparent public engagement in civic decisions of consequence to public space and the heritage of key places across the United States. Prior to returning to her NYC roots, Elizabeth was most recently the President of the California State Parks Foundation from 2004 to 2016. Prior to that she was the General Manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (1999 to 2004), and the Western Director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (1994-1999). Her work in parks includes the New York City Regional Director of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (1989-1994), the Director of Planning for the New York City Park Department (1986-1989) and the Chief of Staff of the Manhattan Borough Office of NYC Parks. Elizabeth graduated from Beloit College. Elizabeth is a past co-chair of the City Parks Alliance and board member of numerous non-profit boards.