Baldev Duggal has been described as the quintessential New York success story. He emigrated to the United States as a young child from India. His eyes were opened to the world of photography when he received a Kodak Brownie camera from his grandfather (with no film). And since then, Duggal has become the premiere name in the imaging world.
His latest project, Milestones to Recovery is an extraordinary photo exhibit celebrating Lower Manhattan’s rebirth in the years since September 11th. It has fulfilled his lifelong dream of bringing art to life in the city he now calls home.
"New technology has forced us to reinvent ourselves, which has allowed unlimited possibilities for growth," said Baldev Duggal, owner Duggal Visual Solutions. This is without doubt a powerful statement coming from an industry member whose business—along with many other visual output providers—was hit hard in the wake of the World Trade Center disaster.
Following 9/11, every New York image-maker took a financial hit: photographers, ad agencies, artists, graphic designers, printers, and last but not least, imaging labs. On that fateful day, Duggal’s overnight film processing division stayed open well past midnight, with his son Michael and the store manager stepping in to process the film because his staff could not make it into the city. “We wanted to make sure that news organizations could process their film and send it around the world. Some newspaper people shot digital; but back then in 2001 many other photographers were still shooting film.”
New York State of Mind
Duggal Visual Solutions opened up in 1961 and today is a 200-person business providing visual solutions to many of the world’s leading image-makers and Fortune 500 companies. Over the past 40 years, Baldev Duggal has become an iconic force in the New York graphic arts and photography communities. On a daily basis, his team produces innovative graphic wraps for city buses, embellishments for retail windows, and printed fine art for many distinguished museums and galleries.
While his accent is still rich from his Indian childhood, it is his love of the city he calls home that has made him the quintessential New Yorker.
Duggal has witnessed a great deal of change over the years—from the growth of both the photographic and arts communities in the Flatiron District, to moving his mid-town offices into the currently massive 23rd St. location to the horrors of 9/11.His spirit and pride in the city continues to shine through his every action.
A Celebration of Regrowth
Milestones to Recovery is a revolutionary photography exhibit by award-winning New York Daily News photojournalist Susan Watts. Presented by Duggal and the Alliance for Downtown New York, the exhibit is in Battery Park, running from June 28 to the end of September.
The exhibition features thirty 4-foot by 6-foot photographs that celebrate the rebirth Lower Manhattan has experienced over the past five-and-a-half years and the resilience of a neighborhood that has overcome staggering obstacles.
“Susan has been a longtime client of ours. She approached me with an idea for a unique outdoor exhibit. After our discussion, we then approached the Alliance for Downtown New York. They loved the idea, and helped raise donations to fund the project. Together we have created a stunning and uplifting chronicle of the recovery and revitalization of Lower Manhattan. Susan’s powerful photographs are a testament to the strength of New York City,” said Duggal.
As part of his dream to bring art to life in the city, Duggal developed a remarkable new imaging technology called VibraTrans, which allows artists to bring photography to the public in new ways. The thirty 4-foot by 6-foot VibraTrans images were output on the lab’s VUTEk and HP Scitex printers. “We created a patented new technology for this project. With VibraTrans, we are bringing museum graphics outdoors for everybody to enjoy—joggers, commuters, children, senior citizens, the entire city!” said Duggal.
The Milestones to Recovery images were displayed in custom-built aluminum frames mechanically attached to the winding fence spanning Battery Park’s lawn. The lawn is adjacent to the World Trade Center Sphere Memorial, which is located inside the park near the corner of Broadway, State Street, and Battery Place.
The images are open in the front and back. If the light is shinning on them directly, they are lit one way. If the sun is shinning from behind, they are illuminated in a different way. “This new VibraTrans media offers the same concept that a DuraTrans in a light box does except the light source is the sun. So the lighting changes from different times of the day and so does the lighting on the photos. The UV coated media is sturdy and has held up remarkably well from the sun, wind and rain. The images are so powerful that they almost seem to come alive. They have an incredible feeling of depth.”
In discussing the exhibit, Duggal’s love of New York and sense of pride were evident in abundance, “I was very proud to participate in an event that has proven to be a very special experience for the city, one that will allow us to share our common story. This exhibit is my ultimate gift to the city that I call my home,” he said.