Greenpoint Gazette
Courtesy James Eisenberg

New Arts Program for Veterans Helps Ease Transition to Civilian Life

BY Tanay Warerkar

For Army veterans seeking to transition to civilian life, a New York City management company is offering a creative outlet for expression.

Urban American, a Roosevelt Island-based building management company launched an arts program, Reticle, in November last year, for returning veterans, which provides them with a platform to showcase their artistic talents be it photography, painting, or other visual arts in buildings owned by the company.

On Thursday, a series of photographs taken by Peter Meijer, a veteran formerly deployed in Iraq, are set to go up at a building owned by Urban American, on North 5th Street between Bedford and Driggs Avenues.

The photos depict Meijer’s travels through Tunisia, images he clicked of everyday life in Iraq, landscapes in Iceland, and images from relief efforts in which he participated during Hurricane Sandy.

“My photography is more accidental than anything,” said Meijer, who is currently working abroad with an NGO and will not attend the installation of his images Thursday. “Through my work I often wind up in strange places, and the process of trying to frame a scene in context – whether searching for a narrative in words or a perspective in a picture – helps me make sense of what I see and feel.

Meijer does not have any formal training in photography. He worked as an intern in the photo department at Maxim magazine before he was deployed to Iraq. His passion for photography however germinated early on when his parents gave him a point and shoot camera as a child.

“I try to seek out a distinctive angle or hidden perspective that, although not common, is as close to a representation of the reality I perceive as can be captured in two dimensions,” said Meijer.

The arts program is the brainchild of James Eisenberg, co-founder of Urban American. Eisenberg formerly served as an Army Captain himself, and his brother and father were part of the armed forces as well.

“This is a way to remind people that veterans play a critical both in the uniform and outside of it as well,” said Eisenberg. “Serving in the army I always knew about veterans’ hidden talents be it artists or photographers or guys who scribbled amazing things on paper.”

Eisenberg thought of the program when he encountered Meijer and another military veteran-photographer Daniel Gorman during Hurricane Sandy relief efforts organized by Team Rubicon, a veteran-led disaster relief group.

The program officially launched in November with Gorman’s photography being unveiled at a building owned by Urban American in Sunnyside, Queens.
Urban American owns over 90 properties throughout the city, and Eisenberg is now working with other veteran groups apart from Team Rubicon, such as the Student Veterans of America’s New York chapter to find other veteran-artists and showcase their talent.

Eisenberg said the installations could either be permanent fixtures in the buildings or alternatively he could move them throughout the company’s various building locations.

To check out more information on the program and the artwork check out


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