A Dealer's Perspective

Four Photographers

Over the years, I have met, not surprisingly, a number of well-known photographers, and here are some small remembrances of four of them. The first photographer is Ansel Adams. He was really a large man, and he was always wearing a bolo tie. The intelligence of his flowing conversation was impressive. He came to Dallas once, and I picked him up at the airport. He barely fit into my Buick Skylark. The evening sun was setting, and he constantly kept watching the sunset commenting on the quality of the light. He also traveled amazingly light, just one small suitcase and a carrousel of lecture slides.

Jerry Uelsmann visited my gallery once, and on the walls I had a show of Brett Weston's work. Jerry studied it intently and seemed rather glum. He shook his head and told me wasn't sure if he would ever be able to equal the print quality that Brett had achieved. What a surprising statement coming from a photographer widely admired for his own printing ability!

In 1978, Eva Rubinstein came to the gallery to open a show of her fine work. Things started off on the wrong foot when I showed her the show announcement. In it I mentioned she is the daughter of pianist Arthur Rubinstein. She told me she was quite upset about that statement because she wanted a reputation based solely on her own accomplishments. She also hated flying, and I cringed as her departing airplane ascended right into our notorious Texas storm clouds. It was a visit with a poor beginning and a poor ending, with a rough trip all the way back to New York. (Actually, everything was pleasant between the beginning and the end.)

Several years before she died, Ruth Orkin came to town for a show opening and a lecture. She brought the show with her, and we were going to hang it under her supervision (a situation us dealers barely tolerate!). For some time I had been concerned about displaying one of her photographs. It was a portrait of Woody Allen, standing with his arms outstretched and his head and hands hanging limp in a mock crucifixion pose. For several reasons, both personal and social, I didn't want to show it. Well, she was going through her prints and came to that one, and I wasn't sure what to say. She spoke before I could saying that Lee Witkin (my dealer idol in New York) himself was also uncomfortable with it, and they decided not to display it. Thankfully, she graciously laid it aside. (January 20, 1998)

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