Sassy 70’s Book Signing


5pm Friday September 4, 2015

Please join Woodstock’s independent book store the Golden Notebook and the Center for Photography at Woodstock for the book party and celebration for Meryl Meisler’s Purgatory and Paradise: Sassy 70’s, Suburbia & the City.

Purgatory & Paradise: SASSY ’70s Suburbia & The City is the photographic memoir of a uniquely American story, sweet and sassy with a pinch of mystery. Meryl Meisler’s second photography book juxtaposes intimate images of home life on Long Island alongside NYC street and night life – the likes of which have never been seen.

Quirky, nostalgic and a bit naughty, it’s a genuine cultural capsule of a decade that captivates today’s generation. The photos and stories illustrate Meryl’s coming of age: The South Bronx, suburbia, The Mystery Club, dance lessons, Girl Scouts, the Rockettes, the circus, school, mitzvahs, proms, weddings, gay Fire Island, the Hamptons, feminists, happy hookers, CBGB, Punks, Disco, After Hours and Go-Go Bars, Jewish and LGBT Pride, street life, home theatrics, holidays, friendship, family and love. She had to photograph it to make sense of it all, to hold onto the time, to release and now finally share it.

The ’70s were sassy, but also sweet, and so was Meryl. Meryl’s introduction to purgatory and the importance of being open-minded, not pre-judging people, began with a 1957 childhood incident, being told “You can never go to heaven, the best you can do is purgatory” because she was Jewish. That’s when Meryl learned about purgatory, and the importance of being open minded and not pre-judging people. Meryl moved to NYC in 1975, with her first paycheck she bought an antique edition of Dante’s Purgatory and Paradise illustrated by Gustave Doré. She needed to “own it” and take back the power. Meryl carried her medium format camera everywhere with great delight – photographing the world she knew on Long Island– donning childhood uniforms and costumes for self-portraits, comedic insider views of family and friends homes, the hilarity of her parents’ Mystery Club circle. “Not in mine eyes alone is Paradise,” declares Dante in Paradiso. Many viewed ‘70s NYC as hell, purgatory at best. With an open mind and heart, Meryl found paradise photographing the streets and nightlife of The City, many so wild she never dared to show them until now.

About the author
Meryl Meisler was born in the South Bronx and raised in Massapequa, NY. She is the daughter of a commercial printer and an employment “head hunter”, and granddaughter of Eastern European Jewish immigrants from Russia, Hungary and Galicia. Upon graduating from SUNY College at Buffalo and University of Wisconsin at Madison, Meryl moved to NYC in 1975. She’s worked as a freelance illustrator and photographer, taught art in the NYC Public Schools and continues to teach future art teachers at New York University.

Meryl has received fellowships and grants from New York Foundation from the Arts, The Puffin Foundation, Time Warner, Artists Space, C.E.T.A., the China Institute and the Japan Society. She has exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Historical Society, Dia Center NYC, MASS MoCA, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Whitney Museum of American Art and in public spaces such as Grand Central Terminal, The South Street Seaport and throughout the NYC subway system. Her work is in the permanent collections of AT&T, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Brooklyn Historical Society, Library of Congress, Islip Art Museum, Metropolitan Transit Authority, Pfizer, Reuters, Columbia University, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and within artist books in the collections of Carnegie Mellon, Centre Georges Pompidou, Chrysler Museum, Metronome, Museum of the City of New York, Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Meryl is the author of A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick (Bizarre Publishing 2014). She is  married to Patricia Jean O’Brien; they live and work in NYC and Woodstock, NY with their dog Via.

This exceptional collection of photographs is not to be missed. The party will be at 5 pm on Friday September 4th.

To order advance copies of this book or learn more about the event visit