Where were you in 1995? I was an associate professor at Northeastern University and head of the Photo Program. I photographed in the 8 x 10 format and had proposed to the Martha's Vineyard Museum that I would like to show my work from the island at the Museum. Our family home is on the island and I have been there every year since I was born. This idea came from a pro bono project I had been doing for the Vineyard Open Land Foundation (VOLF) photographing properties managed by the non profit on the island. The Museum accepted my proposal.
My one person show was in the summer of 1995. I exhibited 16 x 20 and 24 x 30 inch black and white prints of Vineyard landscapes that were atypical in that I wasn't photographing the seashore much but had been working to show both an insider's view of the island and interior landscapes.
This was the same summer that my teacher from RISD (Rhode Island School of Design), Harry Callahan was coming to give a talk at the Community Center in Chilmark. His presentation coincided with my show. I picked him up one morning from where he was staying and drove him to see the show in Edgartown.
Callahan and I had kept up after I graduated and I had travelled twice on school business to Atlanta and was able to see him and his wife Eleanor. My father had died six years before. My Dad was never very tuned into my work, or what drove me. But Harry knew exactly what I was up to for I had the same issues with it he did. The same need to make work. The same goods and bads that came along with it.
The show was a small ripple in a big pond, for the Vineyard in the middle of the summer is a huge machine of tourism, art openings, cocktail parties, powerful and wealthy people showing off and playing hard.
(This image, from a farmer's field in Chilmark, was used by VOLF as a 20th anniversary poster for the non profit.)
But I was proud of the work, a culmination of two years of photographing on the island, in different seasons and conditions.
Now, almost 25 years later, I have been going over the work in anticipation of presenting it to the Martha's Vineyard Museum in their new location in Vineyard Haven as a donation to their permanent collection.
Funny though, I can't seem to get the museum's curator to return my calls.
Wouldn't you think the Museum would like to have this work? A body of work previously shown at the museum from a career artist that focused on the island in the late 20th century?
Addendum: I wrote the above last fall, frustrated that I couldn't get the Museum to respond. I am writing this in mid February and the Museum's acquisition committee has met and they are pleased do accept the work into their permanent collection. This somehow seems right, these 25 year-old-photographs residing in the collection on the island where they are taken.