If you follow New York City crime news, then you're probably familiar with Detective Jason Harvey's incredible work—you just might not realize it. Harvey is one of three NYPD sketch artists, and his sketches of suspects bring dimension to witness details. Now, he is displaying some of his non-NYPD drawings, which utilize the same crosshatch technique, at a gallery in the Meatpacking District.
Fantasy Composites is on view at Fort Gansevoort through January 10, 2016. The show, organized by Fort Gansevoort founder Adam Shopkorn and filmmaker Josh Safdie, features renderings of fictional subjects, but the technique he applied is rooted in his profession.
A press release for the exhibition described how Harvey approaches developing a police sketch. "Beginning with a description of a suspect’s face provided by the victim, he then constructs a forensic image based on various facial attributes." Harvey said, "It’s not a creative process, it’s a skill that I have."
He added, "You have to be a good listener, and have a certain candor when working with an eyewitness... [T]he process itself is therapeutic; it’s a step in the right direction."
For the Fantasy Composites, Harvey "organically and intuitively evolves the profile, incorporating both real and imaginary facial features. He begins with a specific feature then quickly builds on it, adding a distinct jawbone or hairstyle."
Safide revealed, "I was obsessed with Jason's sketches back when he was elusively known only for his stamp/signature 'HARVEY' that I would see on NYCALERTS twitter handle. I regularly made calls to police plaza and did research on this for years."
"Jason is an artist who does not consider himself to be an artist in his workplace. There's no creative freedom when doing a sketch for the NYPD. I wanted to let Jason step out of his comfort zone and show his sketch work in a completely different context," Shopkorn explained. "I conceived Fantasy Composites for our show. Many of the works are rooted in reality and many seem to skew fantasy. The complete body of works strikes a healthy balance between these two worlds. With these works, Jason has unfettered artistic freedom and can improvise and do as he chooses. I trust this must be quite liberating for him."
At the show's opening, Harvey confirmed that, telling the Daily News, "Here, I get to sketch the faces I’m really interested in making."
Fort Gansevoort is located at 5 Ninth Avenue in the Meatpacking District. It's open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. FYI, around the corner is Fort Gansevoort BBQ.