Going to AIPAD is a bit like a pilgrimage to Mecca for photography collectors. Every year those dealers who belong to the membership organization (AIPAD stands for the Association of International Photography Art Dealers) gather in New York for a grand exhibition and collectors, photographers, critics and the general public descend on the New York Armory to explore the offerings.
I’ve never made the trip before, but my wife, Judith, has and was intending to go this year as my proxy. However, when we got a call from Missy and Burt Finger who represent my work in their Dallas gallery, Photos Do Not Bend (PDNB), letting me know that Catherine Evans, curator at the Columbus Museum of Art and Mason Klein, curator at The Jewish Museum, were interested in talking to me about the Photo League, I decided to make the trip. Catherine and Mason co-curated The Radical Camera, the first museum exhibition in three decades about the Photo League. It combines the substantive collections of both museums in a highly lauded touring exhibit now at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida. I’m pleased that my work is represented in that show. At the Norton’s opening Catherine gave a keynote talk and slide show that included my recently found negatives from a Photo League meeting in 1949. She wanted to underscore the character of the Photo League as a place where people of all backgrounds came together — something that was not that common in the 40’s. We’re still hoping others who see these photos might be able to identify who some of these other photographers were.
Luckily Missy arranged a wheelchair for me so that I could enjoy being wheeled around the floor of AIPAD in my modified hot rod fueled by Judith (who likes to say that she’s always wanted to “push me around”!) Once inside the doors of the showroom, I was delighted to be encircled by a great group of young people from the New Hampshire Institute for Art, who recognized me and had apparently spent some time studying my work. They came down from Manchester with Gary Samson, chair of the photography department who invited me to come up and do a talk sometime — something I’m delighted to do!
Other friends I bumped into included Bob Shamis, a former student and former curator for the Museum of the City of New York, whose book, New York in Color, I highly recommend, and Mary Engel, daughter of Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin who heads up APAG (American Photography Archive Group), a great group of folks who meet several times a year to discuss strategies and issues related to managing a large photo archive. Mary is responsible for helping us track down and identify one of the unidentified people from the Photo League negs. (See my blog Up-date on Photo League negatives). I also visited with Charles Schwartz who is also a former student and a photography dealer (AIPAD member) who carries my work. He offered me a copy of his recent Blurb book, Light Reclaimed, featuring some of his collection of daguerreotypes.
It was a full and fun day! Thanks to my dear friend and former student, Mariette Pathy Allen who hosted us for several days and who shared with me her incredible photographs from her on-going photo essay that shares the humanity of the transgender community in Cuba. Stay tuned for more on those. I am soon to begin my new blog category Spotlight on my Students, which will feature the work of a different students of mine from 1955 up to the present! Mariette will be my first feature. You’ll definitely want to see her photos!