Saturday, January 18, 2020

Bill Ray shot some of the most iconic celebrity images of the 20th Century

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of famed LIFE magazine photographer Bill Ray.

Via the NY Post
By Isabel Vincent
January 18, 2020

Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy at 
Madison Square Garden in May 1962

When Private Elvis Presley shipped out of the Brooklyn Navy Yard on his way to his military tour of duty in West Germany in September 1958, the US Army’s brass band played “Hound Dog” to honor the King of Rock and Roll.

“And the captains and the majors helped him with his bags!” said Bill Ray, the former LIFE Magazine photographer who captured the moment.

Ray, who died earlier this month at his home on the Upper West Side, shot some of the most iconic celebrity images of the 20th century.

There is his photograph of a sultry Marilyn Monroe in a shimmering, nude-colored dress, its plunging bare back accentuating her curves as she sang a breathy rendition of “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden in May 1962. Three months after Ray shot the picture on stage from behind the movie star, the troubled sex symbol would be dead of an overdose. Kennedy was assassinated a year after that, and the famous dress, designed by Hollywood costume designer Jean Louis, sold at auction a few years ago for nearly $5 million.

Ray, who worked for LIFE in Los Angeles, Paris and Beverly Hills, shot The Beatles when they first arrived in Los Angeles in 1964, partied with Roman Polanski and his wife Sharon Tate a year before the pregnant actress was brutally murdered by Charles Manson in 1969. He was a regular presence on hundreds of Hollywood movie sets, photographing Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot and Natalie Wood, among others.

“Steve McQueen once told me that he had to have sex five times a day,” said Ray about the “Bullitt” star at a 2009 presentation of his greatest work at the Coffee House Club in midtown, where he had been a member for more than 50 years. “I was too stunned to ask Steve what happens if you don’t.”

William Ray was born in Shelby, Nebraska, a windswept village of 626 about two hours west of Omaha. Ray was the youngest of four children of a prosperous lumber merchant and his artist wife. He developed such a passion for photography that by the time he was 11, he was already a member of the Omaha Camera Club and had his own professional darkroom at home. He got his first staff job as a 17-year-old at the Lincoln Star Journal newspaper.

“The city editor had a smoke and hired me on the spot,” he said.

After a photographic workshop in Hannibal, Missouri, where he impressed the faculty with a series of photographs about the local barbershop, Ray was hired by LIFE magazine and sent to New York in 1957.

“I wanted to live in New York City since I saw Fred [Astaire] dance with Ginger [Rogers] in Central Park,” he said.

For years, Ray and Marlys Ray, his wife of nearly 62 years, lived in a sprawling apartment across from Central Park where he was a regular on the tennis courts and an avid bird watcher. On January 8, the couple took a long walk in the park, feeding a few cardinals along the way, “and, best of all, saw the rising nearly full moon with a kiss (one of our silly rituals),” said Marlys Ray, a partner in her husband’s photo business.

“It was his best day in a long time.”

Ray died hours later of a heart attack. He was 83.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Photographs and the First Amendment. A Harrowing Journey Through U.S. Customs

Via Ohio ACLU

In the United States, people are allowed to carry a loaded gun capable of mass killings, but I was treated as a criminal for carrying a camera with the intention of helping people.

I am an independent photographer, artist, and journalist. For over thirty years, I’ve traveled around the world capturing images of culture and the human condition, and self-published 12 books of photography on subjects ranging from yoga, to animal conservation, to daily life in China, southeast Asia, Guinea, and Senegal. My work has been published by National Geographic and exhibited globally in art museums and galleries.

Earlier this year, my photojournalism work took me to the Philippines. Walking through the poorest neighborhoods of Manila, I was struck by the dire, heart-wrenching conditions of a neglected population. Currents carry mountains of plastic and industrial waste from Manila Bay and the Pasig River to form toxic cesspools near the Tondo and Baseco neighborhoods, laden with animal and human fecal matter. People have to live from this “dead” water, whether catching something to eat for the day or salvaging items from it to attempt to sell for a living.

For the record, it’s not uncommon in developing areas of the world to see young children unclothed in the streets.

But these children were swimming in toxic water and industrial waste, exposing themselves to cholera, typhoid fever, and other infections. Their parents allow it, even remarking that “we are going to die anyway, so what’s the difference?”

I took hundreds of candid pictures—street style; I posed nothing. Children I met would strike poses of their own when they saw my camera, smiling even in their grim surroundings. Sharing these images will be my way of pleading for help for a community that desperately needs medicine, education, and basic infrastructure. If the world takes notice, perhaps I can help make positive changes.

When I flew home, U.S. Customs and Border Protection detained me—with no explanation.

CBP pulled me aside after a 13-hour flight from Shanghai to Detroit, on my way home to Ohio. No one would tell me why they flagged me, and I still don’t know, but they asked to search my computer. It is possible that I could have avoided five months of psychological stress with three words: GET A WARRANT. But I was sleep-deprived, and innocent of any crime. So I let them. They took my phone, so I couldn’t let my waiting family know why I had missed my connection and wasn’t there when they came to meet me in Cincinnati. It was four hours before I was offered water to drink.

It was another half-hour before an agent read me my Miranda rights. Then he asked me if I had sex with children while I had been abroad.

“What are you doing here?” The agent knew that I was an American citizen, but I had to explain why I was coming to my own home country. I told him I was going to Cincinnati. “After that, where are you going?” I explained I was going to Dallas to meet with my wife, who was doing a training for Montessori education. He seized on that. “Does she teach children?” No, I explained. She teaches adults who teach children. “So why are you going to Dallas?” To be with my wife, and to photograph while I was there. His eyes widened when I said that, as though I had admitted to some kind of suspicious behavior.

I tried to explain the work that I do. They looked skeptical at my simple point-and-shoot camera, and told me I should have papers showing that I was a “real” photographer. They compared my images with drugs, as though I were smuggling contraband into the country. I was told that I should “learn a lesson” and “consider myself lucky,” because the supervisor believed me just enough not to lock me up.

When they were done, they kept my computer, my camera, and my smartphone, and the tens of thousands of photographs on them. Not just those from Manila, but also irreplaceable life moments with my wife and family.

Without my equipment or pictures, I was forced to halt my work. I had given my word to meet publication deadlines, but was suddenly unable to meet them. Over a month later, I finally received an official Notice of Seizure telling me that my equipment had been seized because it contained “visual depictions of sexual exploitation of children.”

To be accused of being associated with child oppression makes me physically ill. I am a professional photographer. This is my art, my work, and my life.

Lawyers from the ACLU of Ohio wrote a formal petition to CBP on my behalf. They explained that my work is valuable artistic expression, and protected by the First Amendment. Seizing my equipment was a violation of my constitutional rights. The National Coalition Against Censorship, along with the ACLU and other artistic and free-speech advocates, submitted another letter urging CBP to return my equipment.

Three months after they seized my equipment, CBP finally admitted there was nothing wrong with the pictures.

CBP promised to return my equipment, but only if I signed a release disclaiming my right to sue them for the wrongful detention and seizure. If I didn’t sign it, they said, I would have to go through a formal hearing process that could take many more months.

I made arrangements to pick up my equipment when I next passed through the Detroit airport. Incredibly, CBP stopped me again, and again they asked to search my belongings. I still don’t know why. Luckily, I carry the ACLU’s petition letter with me, right next to CBP’s letter admitting I did nothing wrong. I showed these letters to them, and eventually they let me go.

This time, when I left, I took all my equipment and all my pictures with me.

Freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press are not exclusive to America. These virtues speak to the fundamental nature within all human beings. The U.S. constitutional rights have worldwide appeal, because they contain the universal respect for the life-given Human Constitution that resides in us all. But those rights, these virtues, are under constant assault, now as much as ever. They must be defended, every single day.

I dream of a world where pictures for social change are no longer necessary. But until then, I will continue to do my work: to give voice to people like those children in Manila. I hope now that their voices will be heard.

I am incredibly grateful for the ACLU of Ohio’s timely intervention into this situation. Without guardians of our individual rights my work, my pictures, and the chance to help those children in Manila might have been lost forever.
Tim Stegmaier Washington D.C.

Monday, December 16, 2019


Tony Vaccaro: Georgia O'Keeffe on her Abiquiu Portal, 1960

Retrospective covers the long, eclectic career of Tony Vaccaro
December 15, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When photographer Tony Vaccaro first met Georgia O’Keeffe in Abiquiú 1960, the artist refused to speak to him for five days.

On assignment from Look magazine, Vaccaro had traveled to New Mexico by train with art editor Charlotte Willard.

O’Keeffe had been expecting a different photographer, one of her favorites, such as Ansel Adams, Todd Webb or Richard Avedon.

Trying his best to charm her, Vaccaro cooked O’Keeffe a steak and fixed her broken washing machine, to no avail.

Suddenly, the topic turned to bullfighting. Vaccaro mentioned he had photographed the great Spanish matador Manolette.

The artist pivoted in her seat to face him. She never looked at Willard again.

“Georgia O’Keeffe kept me waiting for over a month,” the 96-year-old Vaccaro said in a telephone interview from his home in Long Island City, N.Y. “She wanted nothing to do with this kid. At that time I was pretty young and naive. She said, ‘Talk to me about Manolette.’ After that, we became great friends.”

“Extras on the set of ‘8½’,” Lazio, Italy, 1962, by Tony Vaccaro.

That perseverance served Vaccaro well during World War II and on film and fashion sets across a nearly 80-year career. Santa Fe’s Monroe Gallery of Photography is hosting “Tony Vaccaro: La Dolce Vita,” an exhibit of more than 40 photographs through Jan. 19, 2020.

Vaccaro was drafted into World War II at the age of 21. By the summer of 1944, he was on a boat heading toward Omaha Beach six days after the first landings at Normandy. He was determined to photograph the war, bringing his portable 35mm Argus C-3. He fought on the front lines, developing his photos in combat helmets at night and hanging the negatives from tree branches.

When it all ended, he shot “Kiss of Liberation: Sergeant Gene Costanzo kneels to kiss a little girl during spontaneous celebrations in the main square of the town of St. Briac, France, Aug. 14, 1944.”

“I stopped at a cafe and suddenly I see this GI and this little girl kneeling down,” Vaccaro said. “I quickly race there and he started to kiss this little girl three times: to the left and to the right and back again.”

Kiss of Liberation: Sergeant Gene Costanzo kneels to kiss a little girl during spontaneous celebrations in the main square of the town of St. Briac, France, August 14, 1944,” by Tony Vaccaro.

Vaccaro credits an abusive childhood with helping him survive the carnage. He was orphaned when he was 4 years old, when he was adopted by an uncle in Italy.

He had no idea how to raise a child,” Vaccaro said. “I was black and blue from this man. I had become like an animal to go into every little hole or corner to survive the war.”

After the war, Vaccaro remained in Germany to photograph the rebuilding of the country for Stars And Stripes. Returning to the U.S. in 1950, he started his career as a commercial photographer, eventually working for virtually every major publication: Look, Life, Harper’s Bazaar, Town and Country, Newsweek, and many more. Vaccaro went on to become one the most sought-after photographers of his day, photographing everyone from President John F. Kennedy and Sophia Loren to Pablo Picasso and Frank Lloyd Wright.

The 1960s found him on the film sets of Federico Fellini’s “8½” and “La Dolce Vita.” One image shows a bevy of women posing from the windows of a three-story house.

“One of those houses was really a house of ill repute,” Vaccaro said of “Extras on the set of ‘8½.’ ”

His attention turned to the woman displaying her legs from a window on the lower left.

“Those are all wonderful models,” he continued. “I’m aware one of the ladies was a girl who played around with men.”

He still carries a camera and puts in six or seven hours daily without a break, creating prints in his studio and identifying jobs for his staff. On Nov. 1, he was inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum.


WHAT: “Tony Vaccaro: La Dolce Vita”

WHEN: Through Jan. 26, 2020

WHERE: Monroe Gallery of Photography, 112 Don Gaspar, Santa Fe

HOW MUCH: Free at 505-992-0800,

Friday, December 6, 2019

Talking Pictures with Tony Vaccaro

Kenneth Jarecke interviews Tony Vaccaro for "Talking Pictures". Tony's exhibition "La Dolce Vita" is on view through January 26, 2020 - you will also see his work with Monroe Gallery at Photo LA and Paris Photo NY/AIPAD in 2020.

Kenneth Jarecke (born 1963) is an American photojournalist, author, editor, and war correspondent. He has worked in more than 80 countries and has been featured in LIFE magazine, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, and others. He is a founding member of Contact Press Images. He is notable for taking the famous photograph of a burnt Iraqi soldier that was published in The Observer, March 10, 1991.

Thursday, November 28, 2019


Tony Vaccaro
Fellini on the set of “La Dolce Vita”, Italy 1969

Monroe Gallery of Photography is honored to announce “La Dolce Vita”, a major exhibition of more than 40 photographs by Tony Vaccaro. The exhibit opens with a public reception for Tony Vaccaro, about to turn 97, on Friday, November 29 from 5 – 7 PM. The exhibit continues through January 19, 2020 and includes several new discoveries from his archive being exhibited for the very first time, and six vintage darkroom prints from World War II. The war prints are one-of-a-kind: the nitrate negatives completely turned to dust.

Tony Vaccaro photographed on the set of “La Dolce Vita”, and nearing age 97, he indeed is living “the good life”. On November 1 Tony was inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum for his “artistry, innovation, and significant contribution to the art and science of photography”, and following the 2016 HBO Films documentary “Under Fire: The Untold Story of Private First Class Tony Vaccaro” he has enjoyed a career renaissance world-wide.

At the age of 21, Tony was drafted into World War II, and by June of 1944, now a combat infantryman in the 83rd Infantry Division, he was on a boat heading toward Omaha Beach, six days after the first landings at Normandy. Denied access to the Signal Corps, Tony was determined to photograph the war, and had his portable 35mm Argus C-3 with him from the start. For the next 272 days, Tony fought and photographed on the front lines of the war.

After the war, Tony remained in Germany to photograph the rebuilding of the country for Stars And Stripes magazine. Returning to the US in 1950, Tony started his career as a commercial photographer, eventually working for virtually every major publication: Look, Life, Harper’s Bazaar, Town and Country, Newsweek, and many more. Tony went on to become one the most sought after photographers of his day, photographing everyone from President John F. Kennedy and Sophia Loren to Pablo Picasso and Georgia O'Keeffe.

Tony still carries a camera and puts in six or seven hours daily without a break; creating prints in his studio and identifying jobs for his staff. Monroe Gallery will sponsor a free screening of “Under Fire: The Untold Story of Private First Class Tony Vaccaro” in the gallery on Saturday, November 30, starting at 5 pm. Seating is limited, RSVP required. The screening will be followed by a Q & A with Tony Vaccaro. Tony Vaccaro celebrates his 97th birthday on December 20.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Sent home for their 1968 Olympic protest. Now they’ll get the US Olympics' highest honor

John Dominis/LIFE Picture Collection

Via NBC News

September 23, 2019

Tommie Smith and John Carlos are part of the 2019 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame class that will be inducted later this year.

The sprinters were sent home from the 1968 Mexico City Games after staging a protest by raising their gloved fists on the medals stand. They were long left on the sidelines at the USOPC, but the federation has worked to bring them back inside the family in recent years.

“It sends the message that maybe we had to go back in time and make some conscious decisions about whether we were right or wrong,” Carlos said, according to USA Today. “They’ve come to the conclusion that, ‘Hey man, we were wrong. We were off-base in terms of humanity relative to the human rights era.'”

The class will be inducted at a ceremony in Colorado Springs on Nov. 1. It will be the first class inducted since 2012.

After the 200 meter race at the Mexico City 1968 Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Teammates at San Jose State University, and Australia's Peter Norman, went to the awards ceremony. Smith and Carlos flung their fists in the air, and the Australian joined the protest in his own way, wearing a badge from the Olympic Project for Human Rights that they had given him, as he felt compelled to join forces with his fellow athletes in their stand against racial inequality. Smith later told the media that he raised his right, black-glove-covered fist in the air to represent black power in America while Carlos' left, black-covered fist represented unity in black America. The black scarf around Smith's neck stood for black pride and their black socks (and no shoes) represented black poverty in America. Carlos had his tracksuit top unzipped to show solidarity with all blue collar workers in the U.S. Furthermore, Carlos wore beads which he described "were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred". Smith and Carlos were suspended from the U.S. team and banned from the Olympic Village. When the US Olympic Committee refused, the Olympic committee threatened to ban the entire US track team. This threat led to the two athletes being expelled from the Games and forfeiting their medals. Peter Norman suffered a heart attack and died on October 3, 2006. Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at his funeral

Friday, September 20, 2019


Image result for Colonialism Is Crime

Colonialism Is Crime
By Marianne Nielsen, Linda M. Robyn
276 pages, 1 illustration, 6 x 9
Published by Rutgers Press

About the book:
There is powerful evidence that the colonization of Indigenous people was and is a crime, and that that crime is on-going. Achieving historical colonial goals often meant committing acts that were criminal even at the time. The consequences of this oppression and criminal victimization is perhaps the critical factor explaining why Indigenous people today are overrepresented as victims and offenders in the settler colonist criminal justice systems. This book presents an analysis of the relationship between these colonial crimes and their continuing criminal and social consequences that exist today. The authors focus primarily on countries colonized by Britain, especially the United States. Social harm theory, human rights covenants, and law are used to explain the criminal aspects of the historical laws and their continued effects. The final chapter looks at the responsibilities of settler-colonists in ameliorating these harms and the actions currently being taken by Indigenous people themselves.

About the cover:
Between April of 2016 and March of 2017 one of the largest social justice movements in American history took place in the plains of North Dakota on the Standing Rock reservation. With an oil pipeline threatening the drinking water of the Standing Rock Sioux and 17 million people downstream on the Missouri River, thousands of people ascended upon the resistance camps to stand in solidarity with the Lakota Sioux and oppose the construction of the pipeline. From early spring of 2016 to late winter of 2017, over 15,000 people camped in tipis, army tents and vehicles without the use of electricity in an attempt to raise awareness and prevent the possible contamination of Lake Oahe, the source of drinking water for the reservation. Over 300 tribes and indigenous communities traveled to the camps, as well as nearly 4000 veterans and 500 clergy, to stand in solidarity with the NODAPL movement.

In September of 2016, Ryan Vizzions traveled from Atlanta, Georgia to stand in solidarity with the movement. Bringing his camera with him, but not intending to be a media source, Vizzions soon found himself using social media to reach over half a billion people with his photographic documentation of events unfolding over the months. With viral reach of one photograph in particular, "Defend The Sacred", Vizzions’ photography helped bring awareness around the world to the movement. Vizzions documentation of his 6 months at Oceti Sakowin camp was selected for the "Photos of the Year" by People Magazine, ABC News, The Guardian,; and as well his work has been featured in the Nobel Peace Prize forums, Adbusters, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, Amnesty International and many more publications as well as books such as "The Militarization of Indian Country" by Winona LaDuke & "An Indigenous Peoples History of The United States" by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.

Ryan Vizzions fine-art photography is represented by Monroe Gallery of Photography, Santa Fe, NM.

Saturday, September 7, 2019


Ernst Haas: White Sands, New Mexico, 1952

The Gallery is closed for vacation September 8 - 12, 2019. We will resume normal business hours of 10 - 5 on Friday, September 13. "Living in History" continues through September 22; Stephen Wilkes "Day To Night" opens with a reception and book signing on October 4.

Friday, August 30, 2019


Ida Wyman: Heart and Mind
September 9 – October 5
The Crossman Gallery at the University of Wisconsin n-Whitewater
800 W. Main Street
Whitewater, WI 53190-1790

Reception: September 9 from 5-7pm

"I want to photograph a certain synchrony of heart, eye, and brain." -Ida Wyman

Ida Wyman was one of the fascinating artists in photography today. When Ms. Wyman first started her career in the 1940s as a magazine photographer, an industry that was almost exclusively male at the time, she started out as a "girl" mailroom boy at Acme News pictures (later UPI) and worked her way up from there. A trailblazing and innovative photographer, Ida has inspired many photographers, both male and female.

Ida strives to capture everyday life of everyday people in all its frustrating, illogical and banal glory. From her classic Girl with Curlers photograph of a little girl on the street in LA staring defiantly at the viewer to the delicate symmetrical composition of Wrought Iron with Snow, Ida photographed what moved and inspired her.

You can easily connect the dots between many artists photographing today with Ida Wyman. Her unique brand of street photography helped define a fledgling style still trying to establish itself. Street photography has since evolved, but the roots Ida helped lay with others such as Arthur Fellig, Ruth Orkin and Arthur Leipzig are still visible. Although not as famous as some of her contemporaries, Ida was one of the defining artists of early street photography that helped shape how we look at our world.

Thanks to Professor Melanie Herzog for this quote from Chords of Memory

Installation photo by Erica DeGlopper

Ida Wyman recently passed away at the age of 93. Monroe Gallery of Photography will present a major retrospective exhibit of her photography February 7 - April 19, 2020.