Recreation Pier, 1905
Oil on canvas
25 x 30 inches
Signed and dated lower left
Myers was a painter of urban realism and an important antecedent of the Ashcan School. He studied at the Cooper Union and the Art Students League in New York, though he preferred to go directly to the streets for inspiration and carried a 9 x 11–inch sketchpad wherever he went. He worked in the New York Tribune’s art department, traveled to Paris, and, upon returning to New York, met the influential art dealer William Macbeth. “Almost overnight, I had become a professional artist,” said Myers, whose work was soon exhibited by Macbeth and elsewhere, including the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.
Throughout his career Myers drew and painted the streets of New York, and he especially liked to visit the places where immigrants gathered on the Lower East Side. He noted that when foreign-born people “merge here with New York, something happens that gives vibrancy I didn’t get in any other place.” In Recreation Pier Myers depicts generations of families gathering at the East River Pier. Set against a beautiful sky at dusk, Myers shows the subjects as happy, but alludes to the harsh conditions they faced in the looming city in the background.