Jay Myself

"The engrossing subject of this documentary, 88-year-old photographer and artist Jay Maisel, is a passionate collector with a special fondness for everyday objects. "Objects are there for you only if you really see them," Maisel explains to filmmaker Stephen Wilkes, who is also his former intern. “And art is, to some effect, trying to make others see what you see.” Wilkes accomplishes this in a portrait of his mentor, surveying with humor, empathy, and depth the six-story, 36,000-square-foot former bank that Maisel bought in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood in the 1970s and transformed into his home and studio, filling it with his eye-catching knickknacks, such as colorful glass bottles and a collection of table legs. Wilkes trains his camera on this spectacular enclave and Maisel himself as the latter prepares to part with the building for $55 million. The film glides seamlessly through past and present, noting Maisel’s accomplishments over the decades through a combination of talking heads and archival footage while anchoring the narrative in Maisel’s own words and the items he holds dear. The building is a character itself; Maisel describes it as "a refuge, an obligation, a source, and a drain for creative energy." In the end, the viewer might find herself both feeling the loss at the center of Maisel and Wilkes’s letting-go process and craving a similar grotto of her own." - Chicago Reader

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