Monday, September 19, 2011

THOUGHTS ON AN EXHIBITION


 HISTORY'S BIG PICTURE



This is the final week for the exhibition "History's Big Picture". We always find ourselves discussing our impressions and thoughts and the feedback we received from gallery visitors and collectors as each exhibit concludes. This time, it is different.
We have each been involved in the art world for 30 years. We couldn't begin to count the number of exhibits we have visited - or hosted as galleriests - over that period.

"History's Big Picture" coincided with the start of the 10 year anniversary of our move to Santa Fe, and after more than 55 exhibits here we wanted to present a very special exhibit, one that somehow emphasized the necessity of understanding and appreciating photojournalism.

There have been many exhibits that we wished could have run longer. This will be the first that will be actually difficult to take down. Since the opening on July 2, the exhibit has been seen by many thousands of viewers, timed as it was to coincide with the busy Santa Fe summer season. Visitors from all over the world have experienced a walk through the past 80 years in history: young, old, tours, school groups, veterans, politicians, museum curators, collectors, the "famous", and even a few homeless. We have seen parents quietly explaining the situation behind a photograph to their children, we have seen people softly weeping, and the quiet of the gallery has occasionally been startled by someone gasping "Oh my God!".
The exhibit progresses chronologically, starting in 1930's Germany with photographs of Dr. Joseph Goebbels, and the first meeting of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini that have caused several visitors to whirl about and face the front desk and exclaim "This is serious!"

The photographs from Depression-era America have instantly resonated with gallery guests as they compare that time with the current economic condition. Interestingly, the same comparison has just recently been addressed in articles in the Los Angeles Times and The Guardian.
And from there the exhibition continues, a roller coaster through World War II, the 1950's; the brief hope of John Kennedy and the violent and shocking end of that hope; through the civil rights struggle and another shocking assassination, the shining hope of Robert Kennedy, the devastation of his assassination; the horror of Vietnam, the shock of 9/11, and the complicated consequences of America's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The final photograph is by Eric Smith of the casket of an Iraq War soldier on an empty stage prior to his memorial service delivers visitors near the exit and the front desk, and often a conversation ensues. Some need to talk, some need comfort, some have been angry, and some have been inspired to find out more.
This exhibition has affirmed our steadfast belief in the power of a photograph. The exhibit's press release stated "Photographers in this exhibition illustrate the power of photography to inform, persuade, enlighten and enrich the viewer's life." And on the About Us page of our website we state " The way a photograph can capture time, emotions, and feelings makes photography a unique art form". We have witnessed this first hand and in a very powerful confirmation during this exhibit.

We are so grateful for all of the participating photographers, so many of whom we have been privileged to have known know personally. For those who are no longer living with us, we thank their families. For those still working, we honor your commitment and service to humanity.

We are so very thankful to all who have visited the exhibit. There are discussions about the possibility of travelling the exhibit to some museums, so if you missed it stay tuned. It will continue to live on our website in the Archived Showcase section as well.

Thank you.