Friday, April 30, 2010


...that John Filo looked through the lens of his camera as he took his historic picture on May 4, 1970, after the shootings on the Kent State campus that left four dead and nine wounded.

On May 4th, 1970, John Filo was a young undergraduate working in the Kent State photo lab. He decided to take a break, and went outside to see students milling in the parking lot. Over the weekend, following the burning of the ROTC building, thousands of students had moved back and forth from the commons area near to the hill in front of Taylor Hall, demonstrating and calling to an end to the war inj Vietnam. John decided to get his camera, and see if he could get an interesting picture. He saw one student waving a black flag on the hillside, with the National Guard in the background. He shot the photograph, and feeling that he now had recorded the moment, wandered to the parking lot, where a lot of the students had gathered. Suddenly, G company of the Ohio National Guard opened fire. John thought they were shooting blanks, and started to take pictures.

A second later, he saw Mary Vecchio crying over the body of one the students who had just been killed, Jeffrey Miller.  He took the picture.

A few hours later, he started to transmit the pictures he had taken to the Associated Press from a small newspaper in Pennsylvania.

©Dirck Halstead, The Digital Journalist

The photograph won him a Pulitzer. To take the picture John used a Nikkormat camera with Tri X film and most of the exposures were 1/500 between 5.6 and f 8.

National Public Radio: "Shots Still Reverberate For Survivors Of Kent State"
"Out in the world, when people talk about the shootings at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, they call it "Kent State." But in the small town of Kent, 35 miles south of Cleveland, and on the university campus, they call it "May 4th."  The full multi-media article is here.

Listen to John Filo recount the making of the photograph here.

Last year, John Filo was reunited with the photograph's subject, Mary Vecchio.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Marlene Dietrich passionately kissing a GI as he arrives home from World War II, New York, 1945

Monroe Gallery of Photography is extremely pleased to announce it is representing the Irving Haberman Photo Collection of vintage prints. The Irving Haberman Photo Collection was formed in 2009 by Michael Tarter, the grandson of award-winning photographer Irving Haberman.  Now, for the very first time, Haberman's treasured vintage prints are available to collectors.

Born in the Bronx, New York, on June 1, 1916, Irving Haberman became one of the preeminent news photographers of the 20th century. During an illustrious career that spanned nearly 50 years (1936-1985), including 35 years at CBS, Haberman liked to say he “shot ‘em all”, and that he did. With a breadth of work astonishing for just one man, his collection features more than 10,000 negatives and vintage prints, covering some of the most celebrated personalities and defining moments of his era, together with the struggles, aspirations, and triumphs of ordinary people. In recognition of his work, Haberman won more than 70 awards, including Photographer of the Year (1969) and a Lifetime Achievement Award (1991), both from the prestigious New York Press Photographers Association.

In 1995, Haberman celebrated the publication of "Eyes on an Era: 4 Decades of Photojournalism by Irving Haberman" by Rizzoli, which featured commentary from his dear friend and former CBS colleague, Walter Cronkite. Mike Wallace, another friend and colleague who attended the opening night exhibition of Haberman’s work at the International Center of Photography in New York noted at the time, “Irving Haberman had the gift of friendship, which lured the folks whose pictures he shot to give him their best. In return, he gave them vivid and evocative pictures.”

Haberman became friends with many of the celebrities and newsmakers he shot over the years, but it was always his family that mattered most. He was married for 60 years to his wife Beulah, before her passing in 2001. Haberman passed away March 25, 2003 at the age of 86. He is survived by two daughters and four grandchildren.

Haberman's career highlights included:

The Brooklyn Eagle (1936 - 1939)
One-Man Photo Syndicate Based in Brooklyn, New York (1939 - 1941)
Newspaper PM/New York Star (1941 - 1949)
CBS (1949 - 1968)
Richard Nixon's Official Campaign Photographer (1968)
CBS (1969 - 1985)

See selections of currently available vintage prints here. Also visit the homepage of the Irving Haberman Photo Collection here.

Friday, April 23, 2010


KSJE Public Radio, Farmington, NM, 90.9, "Cultural Beacon of the Four Corners" airs a interview with Sidney Monroe of the  Monroe Gallery of Photography.

"The gallery's aim is to preserve the best photojournalism of the 20th and 21st Centuries..." -- Connie Gotsch, KSJE.

Sidney Monroe discusses the state of photojournalism with Connie Gotsch. Grotsch is the proud recipient of the 2007 Communicator of Achievement award from the New Mexico Press Women. Topics discussed include the challenges and changes affecting Photojournalism; the transformation of traditional media outlets; photography in a digital age; and the polarization and media bias in the age of the internet.

Listen to the interview here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

LOEWS MAGAZINE: COLLECTING PHOTOGRAPHY - If you don't think photography is worth collecting, you're missing the big picture

Margaret Bourke-White Working atop the Chrysler Building, 1934, Oscar Graubner ©Time Inc.

by Geoff Williams
©Loews Magazine

J. Kritz didn’t set out to collect photographs. He just wanted a cool picture for his dorm room.

But unlike most college freshman, instead of buying a few posters, E.J. plunked down $150 at an art gallery and purchased an original Rob Arra, who is well known for his photos of sporting crowds in stadiums. And while stadium crowds may not sound like collectibles, with an imaginative eye and careful lighting, Arra manages to make a night game at Fenway Park a work of art. Ten years later, E.J. is now an Arra disciple. “If I could fast forward 60 years and learn that I had never once purchased a painting, I wouldn’t be shocked,” says E.J. “But if someone told me I had spent thousands and thousands of dollars on photography, I wouldn’t be shocked either.”

Collecting photography as a pastime is relatively new and the medium itself didn’t begin to be embraced as an art form until the 1970s. That said, there are probably more collectors out there than you would think.

Who and What to Collect

Sid Monroe, owner of the Monroe Gallery of Photography in Santa Fe (with his wife, Michelle), could be speaking for every museum curator and every experienced collector when he says: “You need to develop your own subjective way that you look at photography. Ultimately, what you live and surround yourself with says something about you, that you derive some satisfaction and pleasure in viewing those images. So go to museums, go to galleries, read books of photo collections and get a sense of what is attractive to you, and from there, you start to seek out what’s appealing.”

Rosa ‘Grace de Monaco,’ 2002, by Ron van Dongen

Beyond your personal preferences, as with any form of collecting, price is an additional key consideration. On the whole, photography is less expensive to collect than other art forms. While a Jackson Pollock painting sold for $140 million in 2006, the most expensive photograph ever sold was 99 Cent II Diptych by Andreas Gursky, which went for $3.3 million in 2007. To get started, here are some of the major categories that you might consider collecting.


Generally, it’s agreed that this term refers to a photo that helps complete a photographer’s artistic vision. To begin exploring these works, you might start with a place like the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago or the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York City. His roster includes fine art photographers such as Eikoh Hosoe, who came to prominence after World War II for his dark, sometimes erotic topics, and William Klein, a painter and documentary filmmaker who is also known for producing landmark still photos of New York City streets in the 1950s.

Edelman’s gallery highlights many fine art photographers, including Ron van Dongen and Tom Baril, both of whom use flowers as subjects. “What’s special about van Dongen’s work is that he actually grows the flowers that he’s photographing,”observes Edelman. “Van Dongen nurtures the flowers, clips them and brings them into his house, and shoots them very simply and is very respectful of the flower.”

Baril, on the other hand, specializes in flowers that are past their prime. “He purposefully buys flowers that are decaying, and then he finds their inner beauty,” says Edelman. “He intentionally forces you to look at the parts of the flower that you normally don’t. He’s unique and produces really beautiful pieces.”


You can’t discuss landscape photography without discussing Ansel Adams, probably the most famous of photographers, thanks in part to the numerous books, calendars and T-shirts depicting his images. So masterful is his work that Adams’ mass appeal hasn’t hurt his standing among collectors at all—a print of Adams’ famed Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico sold in 2006 for $609,600.

Pine Trees, Wolcheon, South Korea, 2007, by Michael Kenna

Michael Kenna is another landscape master, an extremely patient photographer when it comes to getting just the right lighting for his shots. “He compares his work to that moment when you’re at the theater, and the lights go out and the music comes on. He wants each viewer to have the same anticipation and approach his work as if they’re the only ones appreciating the landscape,” says Edelman. Rolfe Horn, a one-time Kenna
assistant, is another highly admired landscape photographer. “He is one of the best out there,” says Eric Keller, owner of Soulcatcher Studio in Santa Fe. “He just draws you in, and I think that’s what successful about any photographer’s work. Their images keep your attention for a certain amount of time, make an impression and stick in your mind.”

Creek, Study 2 Izumo, Japan 2004 by Rolfe Horn

Josef Hoflehner—whose main representation is the Bonni Benrubi Gallery in New York—is an Australian photographer with a varied portfolio from around the world. He often shoots in black and white with an approach that can make his subjects appear mythical, not quite real, almost like visual poetry.

And Robert Adams—no relation to Ansel—is known as one of the most talented photographers to ever pick up a camera. “I think Robert Adams and a number of people in his generation re-approached how they used the landscape as their subject,” says Joshua Chuang, who oversees Adams’ archives at the Yale University Art Gallery. “Ansel Adams’ photographs present a very dramatic view of what are mostly pristine, natural phenomena, and his pictures by and large heightened the drama. Robert Adams took a very different approach—you look at his photos at first, and they seem dry. There’s no apparent drama to the pictures, but when you look at the pictures, they’re still beautiful, but in a different way.”

5th Avenue, New York, 1955, by William Klein


Alfred Eisenstaedt was a pioneer in his field, one of the earliest practitioners of photojournalism, before there was even a name for photojournalism,” says Monroe. You may know Eisenstaedt’s work even if you don’t know his name: a longtime photographer for LIFE magazine, Eisenstaedt took the iconic photograph of a Navy sailor kissing a nurse on V-J Day.

Robert Frost, Ripton, Vermont, 1955, by Alfred Eisenstaedt ©Time Inc.

“He covered many historic moments and took many photos of world leaders like Winston Churchill, Hitler, Mussolini, but it was often the quieter photographs that really showcase his art. He wouldn’t say, but I think he felt some of his best photos were of nature. He did some amazing nature photography, beautiful still lifes of winter trees and snow,” says Monroe.

Alfred Eisenstaedt: Marilyn Monroe, Hollywood, 1953 ©Time Inc.

Henri-Cartier Bresson: Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, 1932

Henri Cartier-Bresson was a French photojournalist right around the same time and considered a master of candid photography. Ted Croner, while not as significant a figure as Eisenstaedt or Cartier-Bresson, is intriguing for a series of photographs that he took in the late 1940s, says Monroe.

Ted Croner: New York Taxi, c. 1946-47

“Ted Croner took a very different approach to photography. He wanted his images to be as realistic as possible, but he also had this modern view—his pictures were almost like jazz, showing a lot of motion, music and excitement. They were very reflective of the time of the late 1940s.” One of his best known works, says Monroe, was Taxi, New York. “It’s a blur of an old taxi going through the city at night, and it’s just a very exciting photograph—a really pure example of just reflecting that moment. That’s clearly his best-known image, but there are several others, and I don’t think any casual viewer can come across those images and not really stop and look.”

Ted Croner: Woman Bicyclist, Circus, Madison Square Garden, NY, 1947-48

Margaret Bourke-White is yet another important photojournalist turned fine art photographer. “She was truly a groundbreaker in every sense of the word, not the least being a woman doing what she did,” points out Monroe. She worked steadily for Fortune and LIFE magazines, capturing images of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s and, shortly before his assassination, Mahatma Gandhi.

Monroe sums up her work in one word: “Astounding.”

                               More Fashion Mileage per Dress, Barbara Vaughn, New York,1956, by Lillian Bassman


If you’re more into portraits of people—especially celebrities—this style may be worth exploring. Some Hollywood photographers and fashion photographers have also made their way into the realm of fine art. George Hurrell, says Keller, “was the best known of the Hollywood era portrait makers. He came right up through the studio system, starting at MGM Studios and really became sort of a star maker in his own right with the beautiful images he was able to make.” Some of Harrell’s most famous shots include Jane Russell lying on a haystack and Jean Harlow on a bear skin rug, each of them intensely lit to suggest their respective star power. What Keller finds interesting about  Hurrell’s work is that he hadn’t set out to create art, he was just promoting stars. However, the superb aesthetic quality of his shots is unmistakable and has attracted a large number of collectors over the years.

The same thing happened to Georges Dambier. Taking photos of celebrities like Rita Hayworth after World War II and shooting for the fashion magazine ELLE may not sound like a path to fine art, but these days Dambier’s work is highly sought-after. Horst P. Horst, often just known as Horst, is a fashion photographer whose work appeals to contemporary collectors. He was a photographer for Vogue and is recognized as “a magician with light and shadows,” explains Etheleen Staley of the Staley-Wise Gallery in New York City. “He’s considered one of the old masters,” she says.

Staley cites Patrick Demarchelier and Lillian Bassman as examples of major magazine photographers whose work is particularly collectible. Bassman is 92 and a good portion of her work was taken from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. By the 1970s, not thinking her work all that special, she got rid of many photographs. However, in the 1990s she came across a bag of her old negatives. Always interested in manipulating images, Bassman, says Staley, “went into the dark room, worked on the negatives, bleached and smudged and really transformed her existing photographs into something special.”

Photo Fine Points

To begin collecting photography, there are several key questions to ask that should help you get a sense of a particular work’s value and whether it’s worth acquiring.

Is it a vintage print? This is a term that came about in the 1970s, when collecting photographs became mainstream. A photo is considered vintage if it’s a print made by or under supervision of the photographer within about a year of the negative’s creation. If this becomes important to you, then as Staley says, you are “hardcore.”

Is this an original? Some photographers will make copies of a photo years after the fact, and so while it may not be considered vintage, it is still an original. One way to look at it—an original photograph has been printed and held by the photographer during his or her lifetime.

Is it a limited edition? It’s important to determine if there is a specific, certain and finite number of prints that a photographer agreed to make, since this clearly increases the rarity of the photograph and its worth.

Is the photo signed? That little difference, depending on the photographer and photo, of course, can make a picture’s worth go thousands of dollars up in value.

The photographer? Um, dead or alive? It’s morbid, yes, but just as with paintings, a photographer’s work is worth even more once they’re gone, since their life’s work is now finite.

Following Your Passion

While the diagnostic queries are key to making a good photo purchase, whether you like the photo could well be the most important question to ask yourself. Because while it’s certainly possible to buy photography as an investment, it’s risky if making money is all you care about. As such, why not like what you’re buying? After all, this is what makes so many photographs worth something special—that mysterious, hard-to-describe quality that attracts people to the picture in the first place.

“The great thing about photography is that there are photographs related to everything on earth that people collect,” says Pablo Solomon, a prominent artist and sculptor in Austin, Texas, who also has a passion for collecting photography. “Photographs give people a way to remember good times and document bad times. Photographs capture moments shared by an entire generation or a special moment between two lovers.” That’s certainly part of why E.J. Kritz became a collector. “I think it’s in the details for me,” says E.J. “There’s something crisp and pure and real about photography. The camera can capture things that the brush can’t, and that’s not to sleight an artist. When I’m looking at a photo, I know that what I’m looking at was really what it was like on that day at that moment for that person.”

Man and Woman #8, 1960, by Eikoh Hosoe

Ted Croner: The Outlaw, 1949-50

NOTE: for more information about collecting, watch for the forthcoming publication of  "The Photograph Collector’s Guide"; Published in association with Marquand Books.

For more information:

The Photograph Collector’s Guide by Lee D. Witkin and Barbara London, published in 1979, is still an essential
reference book. Lorraine Anne Davis has spent five years reviewing and updating the contents. More than 400 artists biographies include signatur and stamping variations, negative sizes, portfolio print titles, printers, and important collections for each. Also included are essays on fakes and forgeries, portfolios, photography books, and digital photography, as well as a comprehensive glossary of digital and analog terms.

The single most helpful guide to fine art photography for dealers and collectors has been completely updated and will be
published this fall.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Monroe Gallery of Photography is honored to welcome the New Mexico Women in Film for a private reception in the gallery prior to a very unique event that is being staged to raise money for New Mexico Film Makers Give Back. Jeff Bridges will return to Santa Fe, location of the acclaimed film "Crazy Heart", for a special performance with his band at Santa Fe's historic Lensic Theater Sunday afternoon. New Mexico Film Makers Give Back is a program of IATSE Local 480, which raised over $100,000 last year to fund local charities.

For more information about the public benefit performance, please contact Jon Hendry (505) 670-7381. The Lensic is located at 211 West San Francisco Street. The Box office can be contacted at 505-988-1234 or

Jeff Bridges' Band to Play Santa Fe's Historic Lensic Theater

The first live stage performance of Jeff Bridges' band will take place on Sunday, April 18th at 3pm at Santa Fe's historic Lensic Theater.

This year Bridges has won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for his portrayal of Bad Blake, a hard drinking, down-on-his-luck, country singer who finds redemption through his love for a young reporter (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and her son. Bridges was also highly acclaimed for his renditions of the film's songs, particularly 'The Weary Kind', the ballad that won Producer T-Bone Burnett and his co-composer, Ryan Bingham, an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Now, in one of those Life-Imitating-Art moments, Bridges returns to Santa Fe, where much of 'Crazy Heart' was filmed, for this debut performance.

There is also a certain symmetry in the choice of locations. In the film, Bad Blake performs just across the street at Evangelo's, a well-known Santa Fe watering hole and music venue. The Lensic, built in 1931, has hosted its share of stars over the years, including Judy Garland, Yehudi Menuhin, Roy Rogers and Rudy Vallee. In December, 2000 the Lensic was recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as an official project of Save America's Treasures. The following April, a massive restoration was begun on the theatre to make it one of Santa Fe's premiere performing arts spaces.

In addition to the live performance, there will be a silent auction of movie memorabilia and a raffle. This charitable event is being staged to raise money for New Mexico Film Makers Give Back, a program of IATSE Local 480, which raised over $100,000 last year to fund local charities.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


In Today's Santa Fe Reporter:  Pick : "Inspired by Cartier-Bresson and instructed by W. Eugene Smith, photographer Steve Schapiro has spent the last 50 years documenting the defining events and figures in American culture. American Edge, a review of his career, includes more than 50 photographs of subjects that range from Martin Luther King Jr. to Andy Warhol, and provide a record of American Life. Reception with Steve Schapiro 5 - 7 PM, Friday; through June 27."

©The Santa Fe Reporter is the most widely read newspaper in Santa Fe, New Mexico, featuring award-winning local news and a weekly arts section with an emphasis on exciting and critical writing.

See previous blog post for further information about the exhibition Steve Schapiro: American Edge.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Martin Luther King Jr, Alabama, 1965

Santa Fe--Monroe Gallery of Photography, 112 Don Gaspar, is honored to announce an extensive exhibition of more than 50 significant photographs by Steve Schapiro of events that would shape a generation, and people who were considered among the most dynamic of this past century. The exhibition opens with a reception for the photographer on Friday, April 16, from 5 to 7 PM, and will continue through June 27. View the exhibition on-line here.

Steve Schapiro discovered photography at age of nine at a summer camp. Excited by the camera's potential, he would spend the next decades prowling the streets of his native New York trying to emulate the work of the great French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. Schapiro was a disciple of the great photographer W. Eugene Smith, and shared Smith's passion for black and white documentary work. From the beginning of Schapiro’s career, he had already set a mission for himself: to chronicle the “American Life”. One of the most respected American documentary photographers, Steve Schapiro has photographed major stories for most of the world’s most prominent magazines, including Life, Look, Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, People, and Paris Match.

Schapiro's photographs show the collective American psyche torn apart by the turbulent 1960's; the increasing disparity between rich and poor; racial and class conflict; the burgeoning middle class and its materialistic desires; in short, the American Edge.

Fifth Avenue, New York, 1961

His career in photography began in 1960 with personal documentary projects on "Arkansas Migrant Workers" and "Narcotics Addiction in East Harlem". The New York Times Magazine published his migrant photographs as a cover story which resulted in bringing electricity to a farm camp that previously had only kerosene lamps. In the 60's and 70's, he traveled extensively throughout the United States for Life and other magazines doing stories on American culture. Schapiro spent several weeks in the South with James Baldwin and became involved in many civil rights stories including the Selma March and covering Martin Luther King; he traveled with Bobby Kennedy on his Senate campaign and Presidential campaign (including a stop in Albuquerque); and did photo essays on Haight Ashbury, the Pine Ridge Sioux Indian Reservation, and Protest in America. He photographed Andy Warhol and the New York art scene, John and Jacqueline Kennedy, poodles, beauty parlors, and performances at the famous Apollo Theater in New York. He also collaborated on projects for record covers and related art.

As picture magazines declined in the 1970's and 80's he continued documentary work but also produced advertising material, publicity stills and posters for films, including, The Godfather, Rambo, The Way We Were, Risky Business, Taxi Driver, and Midnight Cowboy. From 2000 through 2003 he was a contributing photographer for American Radio Works (Minneapolis Public Radio) producing on-line documentary projects, including: “Viet Nam Vets,” “The Mentally Disturbed and the Prison System” and “Survivors of Jim Crow.”

Monographs include American Edge (2000), “Schapiro’s Heroes” (2007), "The Godfather Family Album - Photographs by Steve Schapiro" (2008); limited edition books of Chinatown and Taxi Driver will be published by Taschen in the near future.

Since the Metropolitan Museum of Art's seminal 1989 exhibition, "Harlem on my Mind", Schapiro's photographs have appeared in museum exhibitions world-wide, including the High Museum of Art's "Road to Freedom", currently on exhibit at the Bronx Museum and travelling the United States.

Supermarket Protest, New Jesery, 1963

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Funds Sought to Continue Restoration at Ellis Island; abandoned buildings on the southern side of Ellis Island immortalized in Stephen Wilkes' photographs.

Corridor #9, Ellis Island

An article by Robin Pogrebin in today's New York Times reports that "Save Ellis Island, a nonprofit charged with restoring that historic immigrant gateway to America, may not be able to save itself. The group has run out of money."

"We’re not able to keep it going a whole lot longer,” its president, Judith R. McAlpin, said in an interview. She added that the group, which recently posted an “urgent appeal” for donations on its Web site (, needs to raise about $500,000 in the next few weeks if it is to survive. If it does not, Save Ellis Island will have to return $512,000 in grants that it has already received to restore 30 buildings and repurpose them for public benefit, Ms. McAlpin said, and work on current projects will be suspended."

"Ellis Island, which closed as an immigrant-processing center in 1954, has remained a serious concern for preservationists in the years since the main building was restored and opened as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in 1990. Most of the remaining buildings — many on the island’s south side — have remained unused and in disrepair"

Read the full article here.

In 1998 Stephen Wilkes started a personal project photographing the south side of Ellis Island: the ruined landscape of the infectious disease and phychiatric hospital wings, where children and adults alike were detained before they could enter America. Through his photographs and video work, Wilkes  inspired and helped secure an initial $6 million in funding towards the restoration for the south side of the island.

Stephen Wilkes created a remarkable collection of large format color cibachrome photographs of the abandoned buildings on the southern side of Ellis Island. Photographed over five years (1998 - 2003), the collection was published in 2006 in the monograph "Ellis Island: Ghosts of Freedom".  Wilkes' photographs capture the haunting beauty of the century old buildings and are a rich visual tapestry evoking the ghosts of the millions of immigrants who passed through these halls on their first stop in America.

The World Monuments Fund put the island on its watch list of threatened sites in 1996 and 2006. The National Trust for Historic Preservation included Ellis Island on its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places twice in the 1990s.

We urge all to help save this landmark gateway to America. Please go to Save Ellis Island today.

“We’re not able to keep it going a whole lot longer,” its president, Judith R. McAlpin, said in an interview. She added that the group, which recently posted an “urgent appeal” for donations on its Web site (, needs to raise about $500,000 in the next few weeks if it is to survive. If it does not, Save Ellis Island will have to return $512,000 in grants that it has already received to restore 30 buildings and repurpose them for public benefit, Ms. McAlpin said, and work on current projects will be suspended.

Save Ellis Island has been hurt not only by the decline in donations caused by the economic downturn, but also by major spending cuts from New Jersey, one of its longtime benefactors.

Ellis Island, which closed as an immigrant-processing center in 1954, has remained a serious concern for preservationists in the years since the main building was restored and opened as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in 1990. Most of the remaining buildings — many on the island’s south side — have remained unused and in disrepair.

The World Monuments Fund put the island on its watch list of threatened sites in 1996 and 2006. The National Trust for Historic Preservation included Ellis Island on its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places twice in the 1990s.

“Save Ellis Island has done a very good job of marshalling us,” said Richard Moe, the president of the National Trust, who serves on the Ellis Island group’s board. “We need an organization that’s solely focused on Ellis Island because this is such a significant historical site.”

Save Ellis Island says that it has to conduct a large-scale fund-raising drive if it hopes to cover the $350 million still needed for the renovations, but that it has been unable to get approval from the National Park Service, which oversees the island and the nearby Statue of Liberty.

“We’re lacking a public commitment to the campaign” from the Park Service, Ms. McAlpin said.

David Luchsinger, the Park Service’s superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, said the agency had been waiting for a feasibility study and strategic plan from Save Ellis Island. “We’ve been very supportive of them, trying to help them out in any way we can; we would like them to continue to be around,” Mr. Luchsinger said.

But Ms. McAlpin said that her organization believed that it could not complete a feasibility study without knowing if it could count on federal support. In recent years the United States Department of the Interior has contributed to the rehabilitation of Ellis Island, but no funds were appropriated for the island for the 2011 fiscal year.

Save Ellis Island said it had hoped to support its efforts with financing from a for-profit partner, which might, for example, hold conventions on the island. But the Park Service said certain agreements had to be in place before that move would be considered. This decision, Ms. McAlpin said, left Save Ellis Island more dependent on public funds and private contributions.

Mr. Luchsinger said the Park Service would continue to maintain and improve the island with whatever money is made available. “We’re going to continue to try to do our part as best we can, given the allocations,” he said. “Whether Save Ellis Island is here or not, that is our obligation.”

Save Ellis Island was established by a group of New York preservationists in 1999 to serve as a nonprofit partner for the Park Service, with the goal of rehabilitating the buildings. In 2007 the organization completed the restoration of the Ferry Building, a long hall built in Art Deco style by the federal Public Works Administration, which served as the departure point for immigrants who had passed their health and legal inspections. The Laundry/Hospital Outbuilding — which still holds machinery that washed, sterilized and dried the bedding of immigrant patients — is about 70 percent complete, Ms. McAlpin said.

“If we can’t save Ellis Island, I’d be pretty discouraged,” said Peg Breen, the president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, an advocacy group, who also serves on the island organization’s board. “There is a great story of America at its best out there. It would be a shame for this country if the south side of Ellis Island never happens.”

Save Ellis Island, which has an annual operating budget of $1.2 million, cut its staff to four from seven last Thursday; at its peak the organization had about 12 full-time staff members.

Most of Ellis Island’s 27.5 acres fall under New Jersey’s jurisdiction; the state fought New York and won sovereignty in a 1998 Supreme Court ruling after Christine Todd Whitman, the governor of New Jersey at the time, made Ellis Island a personal cause. In 2000 she announced the plan for the island’s redevelopment, to be overseen by Save Ellis Island and financed with private and public contributions.

“As New Jerseyans, we take great pride in our history,” she said at a news conference. “But we must also take care of our history so that future generations can share our pride and visit these landmarks of our national journey.”

New Jersey has contributed as much as $650,000 a year toward Save Ellis Island’s general operating funds, Ms. McAlpin said, but that figure dropped to zero for its 2011 budget, and the state is under no obligation to support Ellis Island.

New York State, which retains minority control of the island, has not given any funds, Ms. McAlpin said. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, said through a spokesman that she was working with senators from New Jersey to encourage Ken Salazar, the interior secretary, “and the interior appropriations subcommittee to secure the funding Ellis Island needs to continue operations and for much-needed upgrades to the park’s infrastructure.”

Still, the lack of government support is one of several problems that are making it increasingly difficult for Save Ellis Island to stay afloat.

“It just makes me unspeakably sad,” Ms. McAlpin said. “This perfect storm of elements have come together and brought us to a stop.”

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The month of April marks the 42nd anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. In 1996, Congress authorized The Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Memorial Foundation to raise funds to establish a national memorial to honor the legacy of Dr. King on the National Mall The Washington, DC.

After years of fund raising, the memorial is now $14 million away from its $120 million goal. The National Memorial will honor his life and contributions to the world through non violent social change, more information may be found here.

Coinciding with the anniversay, opening on April 16, Monroe Gallery of Photography presents the exhibition "Steve Schapiro: American Edge". Schapiro's photographs show the collective American psyche torn apart by the turbulent 1960's; the increasing disparity between rich and poor; racial and class conflict; the burgeoning middle class and its materialistic desires; in short, the American Edge. In particular, Schapiro spent several weeks in the South with James Baldwin and became involved in many civil rights stories including the Selma March and covering Martin Luther King; including the aftermath of his assassination in his hotel room.

Martin Luther King Jr's Motel Room Hours After He Was Shot, Memphis, Tennessee 1968

More details about the exhibition "Steve Schapiro: American Edge" will be posted here shortly.

Segregationists, St. Augustine, Florida, 1964

Rosa Parks, Selma March, 1965