Friday, May 11, 2012

Patience is a Virtue

It was the art date months in the making.

I'd met a guy a while back at 27's bar and after a wide-ranging conversation, he'd suggested we meet to see the Ansel Adams photography show at VMFA.

Weeks and then months passed and the show finally closed at the end of February.

Fast forward and we finally made it happen.

This time it was at the Historical Society for "End of an Era: The Photography of Jack Jeffers."

It's a fascinating show, as much for the beauty of the black and white photographs as for the images he captured in Appalachia during the sixties and seventies.

Best of all, all the text next to the photos is by Jeffers himself, providing insight into how and why the pictures were taken.

The weathered faces that stare out are from another place and time where people still lived in ramshackle houses with no electricity or running water. Their toilet was a hole in the ground.

In 1969. And 1972. Who knew?

"Cyrus" is the lynch pin of the show and one of the most challenging subjects Jeffers encountered. It took months of return trips to convince Cyrus to allow his picture to be taken.

The funny part is that once Jeffers gave him a copy of it, he showed it to absolutely everyone he met.

The exhibit is full of images like that. A woman sits in an antique car apparently lost in her thoughts.

But no, Jeffers explains, she is totally blind. A mountain man looks like the kind of grizzled face you'd see carved on a totem.

Only one face smiles, a testament to the uncertainty the mountain people felt at having their pictures taken.

And why not when they'd never before in their lives seen a camera or photograph?

My art date turned out to be a terrific person to see a show with, full of interpretations, opinions and questions.

We were having such a good time we moved right over to the "For the Love of Beauty" show and got a peek at how rich West Enders lived.

Not my style, but interesting nonetheless.

It turned out to be a voyeuristic kind of afternoon.

Waking out the grand front entrance, he said he hoped he hadn't blabbed on too much.

No such thing, my friend. Art dates are made for blabbing.

Like Jack Jeffers, you just have to be patient enough to wait for them to happen.

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