Monthly Archives: February 2009

Michigan Photo Collectors Show Solidarity with the MiPHS


The February/March 2009 issue of The Photogram arrived in my office recently and editor Janice Schimmelman has again found some interesting writers to contribute articles about their fascinating collections. The Photogram is the newsletter of the Michigan Photographic Historical Society (MiPHS) and the group has been around the metro-Detroit area since 1972. DIA patron and photo collector Len Walle introduced me to the group several years back.

For those readers who are interested in 19th-century photography, vernacular photographs and historical ephemera, the MiPHS and its membership have been active advocates of the medium sponsoring lectures, The Photogram, and their annual “Photographica” show and sale that specializes in historical camera equipment and other ephemera.

MiPHS board member Doug Aikenhead will give a lecture titled: “The World in Your Mailbox: Real Photo Postcards from the Early 20th Century” at 1:30 P.M. on Saturday, February 28, 2009 at the University of Michigan’s William L.
Clements Library, 909 South University Ave., Ann Arbor. The event is free and open to the public.

In the Company of Artists – Last Chance to See the Exhibition


Jean Michel Basquiat, 1987, by Ari Marcopoulos
Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1987, by Ari Marcopoulos

Sunday, February 15, 2009, is the last day to see In the Company of Artists at the DIA. During the run of this exhibition, I had the good fortune of spending time with some of the photographers who, through their wonderful portraits, helped make this exhibition such a success.  If you’ve been reading this blog in past weeks, you will already know that Ari Marcopoulos was in town for a lecture in January. He was absolutely thrilled to see his entire portfolio of artists’ portraits  in the exhibition. This photograph of Basquait is a particular favorite of mine. Whenever I see photographs of this artist, it sends me back in time to New York City and the East Village art scene that was so vibrant during the 1980s. Although I never had an opportunity to meet the artist, I almost feel as if I’ve been in his studio when I look at Ari’s work.

Yesterday, Detroit photographer Brad Iverson stopped by the DIA to see the exhibition. We had lunch in the cafe, and I absolutely love hearing him reminisce about his conversations and memories of Detroit artists, their work and exhibitions from the Cass Corridor era in the 1970s. When I visited Brad back in the summer, he had been digging through his archives, and we looked through his many photos of Detroit. I found out during my visit, that he had spent quite a bit of time photographing painter Allie McGhee over the years and one of these portraits is in the exhibition. Apparently, the two met when Detroit collector Gill Silverman commissioned Brad to create a series of portraits of Detroit artists. Brad and Allie became fast friends and jogging partners over the years. I was excited to get the news that Brad has a few book projects in development, and hopefully, I’ll be seeing his work compiled in a publication soon.


Artists' Club, Ionia County, Michigan, ca. 1870-85, by an unknown photographer, from the Leonard and Jean Walle collection.

Although the portraits of contemporary artists have fascinated our visitors, a number of people have remarked to me about the interesting selection of works on view from the 19th century. I am indebted to Len in Jean Walle for sharing a few treasures from their collection with the DIA.  They have been kind enough to invite me to their home where we have spent hours viewing their rare photographs. I remember one visit with the Walle’s last summer, when I first saw this photograph of group of women artists from Ionia, Michigan. I still wonder who these women were, and I’m sure their paintings can be found in the homes and attics of their relatives and friends.

Plans for our next photography exhibition are taking shape and on April 19, 2009, Of Life and Loss: The Polish Photographs of Roman Vishniac and Jeffrey Gusky will open in the Albert and Peggy de Salle Gallery of Photography.

Vishniac, Isaac Street, Kazimierz, Cracow, 1938, gelatin silver print, Collection of Mara Vishniac Kohn

Isaac Street, Kazimierz, Cracow, 1938, by Roman Vishniac, Collection of Mara Vishniac Kohn

Larry Fink – A Young Painter in the Studio of Moses Soyer

Moses Soyer’s Studio, NYC, c. 1957/1958, by Larry Fink.

Moses Soyer’s Studio, NYC, c. 1957/1958, by Larry Fink.

I first heard Larry Fink lecture at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit back in the early 1980s. At the time he was photographing praying mantises in his backyard, but I distinctly remembered him mentioning his travels with beatniks and his interest in bohemian life as a kid in the 1950s.  When he took this photograph, Fink was only 16-years old, and a very young student studying painting with the artist Moses Soyer in New York City. The photograph is part of the exhibition In the Company of Artists in its final weeks at the DIA (closing on February 15). If you have never had the chance to see Larry Fink lecture now is the time to catch him at Kalamazoo College on February 16.