Saturday, April 26, 2014

To Robust Connections

This is the story of a photographer, a barber and three kinds of wildness.

On this sunny afternoon, I had the chance to interview a Richmond-raised, Brooklyn photographer with work in the VMFA, the Chicago Institute of Art and the Brooklyn Museum.

If that doesn't impress you, it sure as hell impresses me.

That after 40+ years doing it, he turned out to have a razor sharp memory for every shoot he'd ever done, every activist and musician he'd ever met, every political rally he'd ever been to, only added to how interesting and charming he was.

I'd expected to get 20 minutes of his time and we ended up walking, talking, sitting and chatting for two solid hours about capturing the decisive moment, as Cartier-Bresson put it.

If you're half the photography fan that I am, you can imagine the thrill of a conversation with someone who knew Gordon Parks and Anthony Barboza.

As if talking to him and seeing two photography shows with him wasn't enough, the icing on the cake came afterwards as we sat talking on the museum's 3rd floor overlooking the Boulevard.

When I paused to take a breath from interviewing and writing, he said, "Ah, there was a moment when you turned to me and there was a look on your face that made me want to grab my camera and capture it."

He didn't want to pose me, he'd just seen something he thought was worth photographing. Leroy Henderson wanted to take my picture and I don't know that I'll get a better compliment anytime soon. Be still, my geeky heart.

After the museum, my starving, hired mouth and I stopped for some late lunch.

As I was stuffing my face, a guy sat down next to me, in the stool I had moments before vacated because the ceiling fan was blowing directly on it.

He said hello, did a double take and said he knew me. "You used to walk down Broad Street every day, right?" he asked, already sure of the answer. It's been over a year since I used that route, but yep, he was right, I did for years.

He proceeded to tell me that he'd always wanted to come out of his barber shop and introduce himself, but either I was walking on the north side of the street or if I was on his side, he was busy cutting hair.

Not only did he finally get his introduction, it took him no time at all to slide me his card and suggest I call him so we could meet up for a drink and some conversation. He was free tonight, by the way.

Sliding it back and explaining that I was taken, he pushed it back under my plate. "Just in case something changes."

That's some persistence there.

After dispatching my last deadline of the day, I set my sights on a short walk over to Black Iris Gallery for Der Vorfuhreffekt Theater, a DIY theater troupe doing a play called "Three Kinds of Wildness."

Inquiring minds wanted to know what they were.

With fantastical, hand-crafted sets, the five actors using foot switches to turn the spotlights off and on and singing mushrooms who were instructed to turn into mammals, it was all very cleverly done.

I arrived late so I ended up in the back row, but on the aisle, meaning that when one of the characters came down the aisle serving daiquiris in specimen cups, I was one of the lucky recipients.

The setting was the TauToma mine, the deepest gold mine in the world but one absent any miners, a concern for the citizenry who were trying to organize a civic pride parade.

There were songs, a guitar player, a puppet and an explanation of the three kinds of wildness, my favorite being the third, defined as a robust connection to all other wild things such as childbirth, oceans, forest fires and, yes, parades.

Then there's the kind of wildness where every time you step outside your house, something unlikely awaits you.

That's something I know a little about.

1 comment:

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