I was at Yale today talking about the suitcases to Jessica Helfand’s freshman seminar class on visual biography. She was one of the first people to connect with the project and has been a huge supporter from the get-go. This is the third year I have spoken to the class and it always helpful to get feedback from the students on my work with the cases. / After the class I usually head over to the School of Medicine Library and visit The Cushing Center. It is one of the most amazing displays of someone’s life one can ever see. I have posted about it here and here, and if any of you are in New Haven, it is absolutely not to be missed. / Thanks to Jessica and her students for a great day.
The New York State Museum did an amazing job conserving and cataloguing the suitcase collection. Three staffers did most of the work. Sarah Jastremsky, Christine Allen, and Kara Chambers worked for months on the project, and they each had their own style of wrapping. I have never been able to tell who did which case, but they all did an amazing job. This particular case represents one of those distinctive styles. / Peg and I always try very hard to return the suitcases to their original condition once we are done shooting.
And it is she who does most the work in this regard. Here is the result of rewrapping Leo R’s case; very close to the original and equally effective. She looks very proud and happy in this picture, as well she should. / From time to time I mention Peg in these posts and it bears saying again that I would have a very hard time doing this work without her help. She deserves a lot of the credit for what you see here and on willardsuitcases.com and I am so grateful that she is a partner on the project.
Leo’s case was one of many leather grips that we have photographed. There wasn’t much in it, but what was there was great. You can see by the label that he was admitted on 25 June, 1954.
I have never seen a Vaseline tube in this color. I wish they would have kept using it, as it is a shade of green that knocks me out.
I have been adding more cases to the suitcases site. Eleanor G’s just went up, which one of the larger collections of photographs. I’ll have more posted by the end of the week, just click on “The Cases” at the top of the page. Thanks for checking it out.
Peter and I had an interesting “one-two” today. We had lunch at Ben’s Chili Bowl (amazing) and then headed down to the Mall to check out the events surrounding the 50th anniversary of the “I have a dream speech”. Ben’s had CSPAN on so we were able to see some of the proceedings on TV which was really great.
We got to the area near the Washington Monument just as the President started speaking. We were way back, but it was nice to be a part of the crowd. I really love DC. It is such an interesting city.
I also want to add a note to yesterday’s post. The document in the Shanghai Garden window is actually a “permit to raze”, which really bums me out. Once that little building is gone, it is gone for good. I am so glad I got to grab a photo before it was demolished.
We went to see the Sox last night and it was a very interesting evening. A make-up day game was scheduled for 1 pm. It started raining in the bottom of the 5th so it was delayed for three hours. Out tickets were for 7 pm but due to the delay, the Sox allowed anyone with a ticket for the night game to watch the end of the first game which restarted at around 6.00. Kind of confusing, I know, but we went in, watched them win the early one, cleared out of the park, came back in and watched ours start at 8.00. The Sox led 1-0 until the top of the ninth when the Rays tied it up on a solo home run. Jonny Gomes hit a walk off in the bottom of the ninth to win it. It was a beautiful evening and the rain held off until the drive home.
This morning we drove Peter to New Haven to catch the train back to DC. We had a great week with him. The underground walkway to the platforms at the station is a bit outer spacey.
After his train left Cris and I drove to West Haven to walk along the sound and enjoy the beautiful day. There is a lovely park with a walking/bike path along the beach. We saw some old guys playing bocce ball and trash talking. It was very sweet and familiar. The above view made me a bit sad, as Dave’s Arcade-Carousel must have been very cool when it was still here. You can tell the original sign just said “Arcade-Carousel” but someone got some stick-on letters to memorialize Dave. He probably deserves the kind thought.
My favorite soap is Pears. I have used it for the last 25 or so years. Some time ago the company was bought by Unilever and the original formula was changed. I noticed a difference as did most other users. (Here’s a link to an amusing piece in the Guardian.) I was bummed, but have gotten used to the new smell and feel. Yesterday I was cleaning out my bathroom cabinets and came across this soap dish way in the back on a shelf. When I opened it I was happy to find a bar of the original Pears that had been abandoned well before the change. / It’s the little things, I guess, that sometimes can make life a bit brighter.
I have been fortunate as a photographer to get into a number amazing buildings. Not many quite as incredible as the Stahl House in LA. Cristine’s sister Lynne and her husband John are docents there, and on Sunday evening we had the privilege to be in one of the most iconic mid-century homes in the world.
The story of the house is well documented so I will not go into it, but it is well worth reading about. Click on the Stahl House link above and you can read a bit more about it here.
The most amazing aspect of the house now is that it is still family owned, and they have graciously made it open to the public. For what is a very reasonable fee, small groups can have guided tours (possibly by Lynne and John) that allow visitors to experience something so rare that it is almost inconceivable. (Cristine looks quite at home in this shot.)
This is a stitched photograph (2 images) that is not perfect (one funky area that I noticed right away), but it shows the house pretty well at twilight. / Big thanks to the Stahl family, and especially to Lynne and John who have become experts in mid-century architecture and artifacts. They also docent at the Eames House, which is open to the public on a limited basis. / Go to the Stahl House website to poke around and set up a tour. If you are in LA it is easily one of the top 5 things to do.
I always try to be positive when I post here, so I will not say much on the death of Margaret Thatcher. But here is a link to a great song. This photograph was taken on 11 November, 1980 on Remembrance Day. It used to be possible to get pretty close to Number 10.
As I was going through my contact sheets I came across a couple of other shots I have been meaning to post here.
I think this is the English footballer Kevin Keegan outside of Buckingham Palace on 9 November,1982, the day he received his OBE from the Queen. Anyone out there who can correct me?
And finally, this shot.
This photographed has always gotten to me. I have a framed copy above my desk here in my studio. I was walking through Victoria Station in November of 1983 and saw this child, with an adult who I assume is his father. A month later the IRA set off a bomb outside of Harrods that killed six and injured 90. I am not sure why I put the two events together, but the connection of toy guns and real violence seems reasonable to me.
Cris and I are in South Carolina for a bit. My brother and sister-in-law generously invite us to stay in their place down here and it is amazing. We usually come in January, but since Cris is on sabbatical this semester we decided to come down in March. We were walking on the beach the other day and talking about flotsam and jetsam. I was spouting off about the distinction between the two. A few minutes later Cris looked down and saw this. It was clear that it wasn’t just dropped on the beach; it had been in the water a long time and was quite near the water line having just been washed up. It is completely dead, but we couldn’t help wondering about the life of the owner. 21st Century jetsam (or is it flotsam?)
I am getting a new battery in the Element and having the snows put on. I should really be doing some work answering email or going through the to-do list in my notebook. The dealership has great WiFi and it is a good excuse to do a quick post and avoid actual work. / The Bluebonnet diner on King Street in Northampton is pretty classic. An original Worcester Diner with an attached restaurant. I like pictures that show prices. Maybe someday someone will look at this and say “Liverwurst sandwich for only $4.29. Amazing”. My mom used to love liverwurst with a slice of sweet onion on rye bread.
On Monday I shot the last of the Willard suitcases for a while. I hope to use the rest of this month to begin editing the images for the Exploratorium exhibit, and knowing how my brain works I knew I couldn’t attempt to edit while I was still shooting. I was surprisingly emotional about the whole thing; an important part of the project ended and I am not sure when it might resume. It is also significant to me that it marks the end of the Kickstarter phase of this work. So some thank you’s are in order. I could NEVER have gotten this far without Kickstarter and the incredible support of the almost 700 people who backed me. Thanks to Alex Ross for the long term “loan” of his lights and soft boxes. He is a true friend. Craig Williams and the New York State Museum gave me access to the cases and Craig’s support was instrumental in keeping it all moving along. And Peggy Ross kept me organized. Without her help in unwrapping, setting up the shots, helping me see things I would have missed, and putting the objects back where they belong I would never have made it through as many of the cases as I did.
I will work on a post later today showing the last case in the queue, as it were. It was a great one to end on.