Why I love NYC: Laura Levine

The rock & roll photographer shares the spots that inspire her.

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  • Photograph: Laura Levine

    Laura Levine, Self-Portrait, 1986

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line

  • Photograph: Andrew Fladeboe

    Russ & Daughters

    Russ & Daughters

  • Photograph: Timothy Hursley

    Museum of Modern Art

Photograph: Laura Levine

Laura Levine, Self-Portrait, 1986

Laura Levine's name may not ring many bells, but you've surely seen her work. The Brooklyn-born, Chinatown-raised photographer—who's lived in the same Soho loft since 1985—is responsible for some of the most iconic images of New York's music scene from the 1980s and '90s. Her work has appeared in The Village Voice, Rolling Stone and the now defunct New York Rocker, and some of her snaps were included in the Museum of Modern Art's recent exhibit "Looking at Music 3.0." On the eve of Levine's first New York solo show, "Laura Levine: Musicians," which opens Thursday 21 at Steven Kasher Gallery (521 W 23rd St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves; 212-966-3978, stevenkasher.com; Mon--Fri 11am--6pm; Thu 21--Aug 19), we asked her where she finds inspiration in the city.

Corner of Madison Street and St. James Place
"I see the corner [on which] I shot [the band] DNA all the time because it's across the street from where my parents live. It's this great acute corner at the intersection of Madison Street and St. James Place where you have the city on the right and the left coming at you. I used that corner for a few shoots. What's really interesting is they just renovated the building there and got rid of the siding, and uncovered this old stone from probably the 1800s. [It's] up 20 feet on the St. James side, and it says BOWERY from when the street actually used to be an extension of the Bowery."

The High Line
"I absolutely intend to go to the [new section of the] High Line, especially since the Steven Kasher Gallery is directly underneath. I love finding hidden, secret little spots in New York that people don't know about. I did some sessions on what is now [the park], but then it was just abandoned railroad tracks. I would go up there because there was no one around bothering you. It was just overgrown weeds in the middle of New York City. I love those bits of nature that insist on being there even when New York tries to pave them over." The High Line, from Gansevoort St at Washington St to W 30th St at Tenth Ave (212-206-9922, thehighline.org). Daily 7am--11pm.

Noodle King Restaurant
"My family's not very adventurous at all. Once we find a place we really like, we just kind of stick to it. When I go see my parents for lunch or dinner, our favorite place is Noodle King; it's directly across the street from my old elementary school, P.S. 1. It's not one of the places that does the whole hand-stretching [method of making noodles], but it's just a great, off-the-radar, inexpensive place with very good soups. If I'm eating on the go, I try to find noodle carts. They have steamed broad rice noodles, and you can get a container for a dollar with various sauces squeezed on. It's delicious." Noodle King Restaurant, 19 Henry St at Catherine St (212-571-2440, 19noodle.com). Mon--Thu, Sun 10am--9:30pm; Fri--Sat 10am--10pm.

Russ & Daughters
"Russ & Daughters is the other family staple for whenever the relatives are in town. My favorites are definitely lox ($28--$52/lb), sable ($44/lb) and especially herring ($3.25 per fillet). The store has several different types of herring, and I'm down with all of them. A secret to the lox is you can buy the trimmings—not the head and tails—that come off the nice big slices for really cheap ($3.99/lb)." Russ & Daughters, 179 E Houston St between Allen and Orchard Sts (212-475-4880, russanddaughters.com). Mon--Fri 8am--8pm, Sat 9am--7pm, Sun 8am--5:30pm.

LTI Lightside
"I used to do all my own printing in a darkroom in my loft. Now I use one darkroom exclusively and they're wonderful. They're just master printers. The same guy there has been printing my stuff for years, and they do a beautiful job." LTI Lightside, 34 E 30th St between Madison and Park Aves (212-685-6871, lti-lightside.com). Mon--Fri 9am--6pm.

Museum of Modern Art
"I don't think I'd been [to the museum] since it was renovated; it's just wonderful. I ended up going back there several times while the show ["Looking at Music 3.0"] was up, and I intend to make it back and spend more time at the whole place: the sculpture garden, the galleries and the restaurant. When I went to the Modern [restaurant] for a friend's birthday, even the plates were like works of art." Museum of Modern Art, 11 W 53rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-708-9400, moma.org). Mon--Wed, Sun 10:30am--5:30pm; Thu--Sat 10:30am--8:30pm. $20, seniors $16, students $12, children under 16 free.

Get a sneak preview of "Laura Levine: Musicians"

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