Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Theresa F / Events

Willard Suitcases Project 
©2013 Jon Crispin
All Rights Reserved

Even though my summer has been scattered location-wise, I have been able to work regularly on editing the suitcases, and have been able to upload a good number of them to the Willard Suitcases site.  Click on “The Cases” to see the latest.  Theresa F was admitted to Willard on 3 April 1935.

It might be a good time to mention  a couple of upcoming events where I will be talking about the project.  In early October I will be traveling to Galveston to speak at NAMIFEST 2016.  NAMI is a national organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families dealing with issues of mental illness.  I’ll be speaking at the dinner event on Friday (the 7th).  If you have been following the project and live in the Gulf Coast area, please think about attending.

The following week, I will be speaking at a very interesting event in Raleigh, NC.  The “Lives on the Hill” project is being organized by the North Carolina Health News folks, and  will be highlighting the shuttered Dix Hospital property in downtown Raleigh.  I will be speaking at the Sunday (the 16th) event taking place at the Student Center on the NC State Campus.  There will also be an exhibit of the photographs up for the entire month of October.  I’ll update about the location once those details are finalized.

It is very exciting to be involved in both of these events, and I am really looking forward to being a part of them.

Willard Suitcases / Dorrit Harazim Book

O instante certo

Several months ago I was contacted by the Brazilian publisher Compania Das Letras about the suitcases project being included in a book by Dorrit Harazim.  They have been really great to deal with, but I wasn’t entirely clear about the nature of the project.  When I got back from Nepal, a copy was waiting for me in my post office box.  It seems to be a collection of essays about photographs (it is in Portuguese so I am not sure), and I was amazed to see the other photographers that were included.  Several Magnum photographers are involved along with Gordon Parks and Vivian Maier and some other illustrious names.  I am thrilled an honored to be a part of it.  “O instante certo” translated roughly to “the right moment”.  It is available through Amazon, so if you read Portuguese it might be nice to get a copy.

viagens sem volta

The article on the suitcases translates to “travel without return”.  I would be happy if the book  was translated into English at some point, but in the meantime, I’ll ask for a pdf and plug it into google translate.

Willard Suitcases / Ida S

Willard Suitcases Project 
©2013 Jon Crispin
All Rights Reserved

The first few days I was in Nepal I had time in the mornings to edit some suitcase photographs.  Upload speeds were really slow, so I didn’t get to add them to the site until today.  You might want to check willardsuitcases.com to see some new ones.  Scroll down to the bottom of the “Cases” page to see the latest additions.

Ida’s suitcase was mostly empty except for a comb, some wrapping paper, and a label.  I really like this photograph.

Durbar Square / Hindu Gods

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

Cris starts work tomorrow, so today was a day to walk around a bit.  The earthquake damage is very obvious with piles of brick everywhere and scaffolding around many buildings.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

These shots are all from around Durbar Square.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

Cris would gasp just about every time we turned a corner in this part of Kathmandu.  She came here first in 1979 as a Peace Corps volunteer, has subsequently come back to work in Nepal on a regular basis, and is really familiar with the city. It is really shocking to see the devastation.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

As we were walking back to the hotel I started noticing pictures of Hindu gods that were about 3 feet off the ground and which were spread out about every five yards along a huge brick wall.  They are evocative in the odd way that things that attract my attention are.  I began taking pictures of them when I saw this next guy, who looked much more contemporary than the rest.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

These next two are Krishna.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

He is almost always depicted with a cow and a flute.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

And often a milkmaid.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

This sign was higher up on the wall and Cris was looking at it and smiling as I walked past her.  It is amazing to come to a place like Nepal with someone who speaks and reads the language.  It basically says, don’t piss or shit on the wall.  Which is why the images of the gods are placed just about the height at which a man’s stream would fall.  It seems a pretty effective deterrent.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

The issue of public defecation is something that the current government has begun to work on (for obvious reasons).

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

We like Ganesh as he is the remover of obstacles and the patron of the arts and sciences. For some reason, we have always associated him with travel, which is something we do quite often.  Finally, here is Hanuman, the monkey god.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

Thanks for following. We are a bit sketchy on Hindu lore, so please pardon me if I have gotten anything wrong about the gods.

Willard Suitcases / Labels / Washington

Willard Suitcases Project 
©2013 Jon Crispin
All Rights Reserved

I am in a phase of editing the suitcases where I have shifted from working on mostly full ones to ones that are largely empty save for labels.  This is Elaine G’s leather grip.  Nice hats, a lovely porcelain figurine and a Bible.  Check out the suitcases site to see the latest uploads.

Willard Suitcases Project 
©2013 Jon Crispin
All Rights Reserved
James M

James arrived at Willard on 15 February 1961.  I like how the staff identified his case as “clothlike”.  I think it was actually  real cloth.

Willard Suitcases Project 
©2013 Jon Crispin
All Rights Reserved

And Carrie was admitted on 21 March 1930.

I am really facinated by the labels as they reveal quite a bit about the folks who owned the cases.

NPGatriumwp

I was in DC earlier this week and had an interesting meeting with one of the curators at the National Portrait Gallery.  This is the atrium that they share with the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  It is an amazing building with a fantastic collection.

Willard Suitcases / Harry M

Willard Suitcases
Harry M 
© 2013 Jon Crispin

Harry M’s case wasn’t technically a suitcase, but it contained some interesting things.

Willard Suitcases
Harry M 
© 2013 Jon Crispin

I’m not sure what the wooden object on the left is, but the Latimer White Petroleum Jelly label is quite nice.  And the Prell shampoo bottle is classic.  The label had fallen off, but it has the “Rinse, Lather, Repeat” admonition that got consumers to use twice as much as they probably needed.

I have been editing and uploading more of the suitcases, and you can see the latest here.  Just click on “The Cases” at the top of the page.  Thanks for following.

Willard Suitcases / L W M

Willard Suitcases LWM

L. W.’s case was largely empty save for this purple piece of rope and a half-smoked cigar.  It stikes me as a pretty good metaphor for a life interrupted.  You can check out the other photographs on the suitcases site.  Thanks for following, and I wish you all a lovely weekend.

Willard Suitcases / Charles F

Willard Suitcases Project

I mentioned earlier this week that I was hoping to get Charles F’s photographs uploaded by the end of the week, and here is a sample.  To see the rest of the collection, please go to the Willard Suitcases site.

Willard Suitcases Project

From the little I know about Charles, he came to Willard somewhat later in his life. I have no way of knowing if the portrait in the above photograph is he, or someone near to him, but whenever I think about his life, this image comes to mind.

Willard Suitcases Project

The tassels on his tallit are especially evocative to me.

Willard Suitcases Project

I believe that this is the publisher of some of his books.  I did a search for it but came up empty.  Any help would be welcome.

Willard Suitcases Project

His starched collars were still in quite good condition.

Willard Suitcases Project

I have no way of knowing if he was in the military, but I would guess that this canteen was army surplus.

Willard Suitcases Project

Here is a close up of his naturalization papers, which date to October of 1896.

Willard Suitcases Project

Many of the suitcases in the collection contain scraps of paper with hand-written notes on them.  I find that these can be especially interesting.

Willard Suitcases Project

 One of Charles’ cases had this selection tools (and a razor).

Willard Suitcases Project

  Please check out the rest of my photographs of Charles’ possessions on the suitcases site, and thanks for following.

Design Observer / Jessica Helfand

 

design observer

Very shortly after the first Willard Suitcases kickstarter went up I received an email from Jessica Helfand expressing her interest in the project.  She soon invited me down to New Haven to speak to her Yale freshman seminar class, “Studies in Visual Biography”.  Here is a post I did just after that first visit.  I have subsequently been to her class on several other occasions and it is always very stimulating and fun.

As well as teaching at Yale, Jessica and her late husband Bill Drenttel created Design Observer, which is a fantastic website devoted to creativity and design.  That description doesn’t do it justice though, as it is so much more than that.  It is really worth checking out on a regular basis.  In addition to the site, Design Observer recently started publishing a quarterly magazine.  The second issue is just out, and they included a huge spread on the suitcases.  I am just so honored to be a part of the issue, and it looks great.  Here is a link to purchase it, and I would really recommend all of you interested in the project to do so.  It includes many suitcase photographs that haven’t been published before.  Special thanks go to  Eugenia Bell, who did a great job selecting the images, and making sure it all came together.  She was a joy to work with.

As we were saying goodbye after that first class at Yale, Jessica reached out, hugged me and said “We’re friends now!”  It was a most touching gesture and I have rarely felt so quickly welcomed into someone’s life.  She has been a massive supporter of the project who has helped me in so many ways, and I am very fortunate to be her friend.

Gordon Krighoff

Posted in Art, ephemera, Family, History, painters, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 16/02/2016

Gordon Krieghoff

I have mentioned my Krieghoff connection before.  Like Cornelius, Gordon was also a painter, and he lived and worked in Detroit, which is where my mom grew up. If I remember correctly, they were contemporaries, although Gordon was somewhat older.  In addition to works like the one above, he was also a commericial artist.

While my family doesn’t have any Cornelius paintings, we do have quite a few of Gordon’s.  There is not much of a market for his work, and there isn’t much information online about his life.  It is possible that my brother or sister know more than I, and they might add something in the comments.  I don’t ever remember meeting him as a child.

When my parents died, we siblings each got several of the paintings.  The frames were in pretty good shape but the mats were yellowed and probably not acid-free.  This is the second one that I have had reframed, and like the first, there was something sketched out on the reverse side of the painting.

Gordon Krieghoff painting

This is clearly the beginning of what was probably an advertisement of some sort.  I know he did illustrative work for some of the larger Detroit companies, including General Motors.  Like many of us, I wish I had more concrete facts about my extended family history.

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