With respect to the conversation regarding immigration at our southern border we present “Immigrants: The New Americans“, c.1915. Taken somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean let us not forget that many of our ancestors who came here were escaping from discrimination and worse over a century ago. Also, let us not forget the contributions they made to our country in helping it to become what we all enjoy today. For many their next stop would be Ellis Island. At the height of the wave of European immigration more than 5,000 people were processed daily at Ellis Island.
It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I agree. There is perhaps an unconscious quest at DPI to locate images that are similar to those taken by the great masters. I admit that I am not particularly moved by paintings except in very special cases. One painting that has touched my soul is “Lady of Shalott” by Waterhouse (1888). I could look at it all day and feel a certain calmness and admiration for the artist. “Lady of Shalott” was based on a poem by Tennyson (1832) and it is shown below.
With all eyes focused on the current humanitarian crisis on our southern border let us not forget that U. S. citizens were once also migrants living in squalor in relocation camps during the Great Depression. The power of the still photograph is clearly evident and on display with the recent, tragic photo of the migrant Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his daughter Valeria who drowned in the Rio Grande at Matamoros while seeking asylum in the United States. I think that it is fair to say that that image will clearly be in the running for the next Pulitizer Prize.
We have many environmental portraits of women included in our People collection. Shown here are three recent arrivals. It should be remembered that for a number of these images women did not as yet have the right to even vote in the United States. Our lead photo is “Lady In A Snowstorm“; Michigan c,1974. When you have to go out for milk and bread nothing, not even a snowstorm can stop this woman.
Painting and photography share a commonality. Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” was the inspiration for this image, minus the pitchfork of course. Probably taken in the southwest U. S. c.1925 we present “American Gothic II“. Appears to be of an American Indian couple.
It is unfortunate that John Vachon’s name does not immediately come to mind in the discussion of the Farm Security Administrations’s photographers during the 1930’s. Dorothea Lange is perhaps the best known, but others such as Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Arthur Rothstein and John Vachon seems to fall into a second tier. This is unfortunate. Vachon’s work was unique compared to some of the other FSA photographers, and it is for that reason that his photographs made a strong impression on me. Some of his photographs were taken during a rain storm. His image of diagonally parked cars in “Omaha, Nebraska 1938” shown below inspired me to try and in some way to duplicate his style. I would like to think that “Alexandria, Indiana 1955” would meet Vachon’s approval.
If you say that this photo is far from technically perfect I would have to agree. It feels good to break the rules once in a while. Remember that this is photojournalism not studio photography. A good deal of photojournalism has its roots in conflict photography. War photography. Photos are taken under extreme conditions. In photojournalism the message is what is important not necessarily the technical expertise of the photographer.
Which brings us to this photo we call “Turn of the Century“. After much research we assess that this photo was taken in lower Manhattan c. 1914. Lower west side to be more precise. Somewhere between Houston and West 23 Street and possibly Christopher Street. The hat shops in that area are prolific. Also notice the battle scars on the boy from a recent fight as well as the Adrien Brody lookalike that he is standing with. We do not need perfection in this photo to understand the circumstances and the setting. Sometimes less is actually better as the mind fills in the scene what the eyes cannot see.
Who will remember us after we are gone? In part, perhaps folks will remember DPI by the images we have left behind.
“…I wish my life was a non-stop movie show
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die…” – The Kinks (1972)
Forgive us for using the film title, but it just seemed appropriate. The lead photo is a Spirit airplane one of several produced based on the Spirit of St. Louis, “Spirit Airplane“; New York State c.1929. How far airlines have come. Below are two photos; “Mexican Railroad Station“, Mexico c.1935 and “The 1929 Reo“; U. S. (1935). A fine automobile to drive during the Great Depression. The Mexican Railroad Station could never be confused with rush hour on the L.I.R.R.
An image worthy of those taken by the Farm Security Administration photographers during the Great Depression. We think that this is one of those special images. There is a lot to digest in this photo. The milk cans in the truck, the visible gas pump, Davis grocery store with the Coca Cola sign, the man sitting in the chair in the shade and the pinball machine next to him. The truck’s grill sets the time frame. One of those great images from the 1930s, “The Milk Delivery Truck“, Austin, Texas (May 5, 1934).