Jon Crispin's Notebook

Roosevelt Island Talk

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The Roosevelt Island Suitcases talk went really well.  Took this photo from the Tramway on the way back to Grand Central.

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I made it back just in time to get the 9.06 to New Haven.

Thanks to Judy Berdy of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society for inviting me back.  It was a lovely evening.

Julianne Wick Davis / Grand Central Station

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The evening at Joe’s Pub was amazing.  Julianne Wick Davis’ song cycle based on my suitcases photos was really incredible.  I was completely blown away by her talent and drive to get this going.  The project is still in the early stages of development, but it is so exciting to have been an inspiration to her. / I was so thrilled that my buddy from Wittenberg, Chris Brigham came out from Chicago for the event.  It was so great to see her.

I am on the Metro North train heading back to New Haven which goes in and out of Grand Central Station.

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It is quite a place.

The suitcases site has been having a slew of problems of late.  We are close to getting it sorted and it is currently back up and running.  It appears that it has been innundated with bot attacks attempting to take over the site.  Thanks to Steve Fox at Born Digital for all his hard work.  It has been very frustrating and costly, but fingers crossed we are working towards a resolution.  Cheers all, and thanks for following.

 

 

New York City/Roosevelt Island Historical Society/Olive

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I had a quick 24 hours in New York City on Thursday/Friday.

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After a great lunch with Zoë Crossland (click on the pdf download media button) in Harlem I went downtown to the 9/11 Memorial.  It is really quite moving.

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The reason for going to New York was to hear Robert Kirkbride‘s presentation on asylums to the Roosevelt Island Historical Society.  I’ll be back there talking about the suitcases on the 10th of May.  Please come if you are in the area.

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It is always nice to take the Tramway over to the Island.

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Cheap as chips and great views as you cross the East River.  Plus Roosevelt Island is a really cool part of the City.

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Judy Berdy is the director of the RIHS and is amazing.  We crossed the street for drinks after Robert’s talk and she just happened to have a set of plans for the Goldwater Memorial Hospital building designed by Isadore Rosnfield.

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I stayed with friends Pieper and Merrill on the Lower East Side.  This is a view of Grand Street from the window of my room.

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I often get requests for more photos of the Olive, so here is a recent one.

Hope to see some of you in New York on the 10th.

Willard Suitcases / Ethel T B / NYC Event (way cool)

Willard Suitcases

Julianne Wick Davis has been working on a song cycle based on my photographs of the suitcases for the past several years.  Here is a link to a previous post.  She is nearing completion of the process and is starting to move to the next stage.

I am very excited to announce that she has put together a preview of the work that will take place at Joe’s Pub in New York City on the 3rd of May.  Here is a link to where tickets can be purchased.  If you are in the New York area and can make it to the show, it should be amazing.  I’ll be there and I am hoping that Peggy Ross can make it as well.  We are so excited about this.  The space is not huge, so I would encourage you all to get your tickets as soon as possible.  Hope to see you there.

The following Thursday (the 10th), I’ll be back on Roosevelt Island for another talk at the RI Historical society.  More on that soon.  That one is free and open to the public.

Willard Suitcases / Editing

Freda B Willard Suitcase

This was the first case I photographed.  It was the 17th of March 2011.  Craig Williams had given me permission to gain access to the collection and I was very excited.  I remember setting up my wrinkled background and fiddling with my lights.  It struck me at the time that it would be interesting to document the entire process of shooting the cases, including what they looked like after the museum had wrapped them back up after the conservation process.

This is part of what I saw when I finally got the case open.  Quite a way to start the project.  This is what I posted about that first day.

Today at about 2.30 I finished editing all of the cases that we have shot, and uploaded the final photographs to the suitcases site.  This case belonge to Lawrence R.  I especially like the headline in the Democrat and Chronicle.

This day has been a long time in coming.  We will see what happens with the project in the fullness of time, but I am very excited and happy to have made it this far.

Connie Houde was kind enough to take this picture of Peg and me on that last day of shooting.  I think champagne might have been involved.

There are too many folks to thank for all of the support, encouragement, and love that I have felt since I began photographing the suitcases in 2011.  But I think of you all the time.  Thank you all.

Willard Suitcases / Rodrigo L Final

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Rodrigo L.

This morning I uploaded the last of the photographs of Rodrigo’s possessions.  His cases were really interesting and you can check them all out here.

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Rodrigo L.

Rodrigo maintained a strong connection his native Philippines, and also had an interesting collection of books.

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Rodrigo L.

There were several items pressed between the pages of a few of them.

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Rodrigo L.

This hat was pretty cool and the white object at the bottom seems to be shark’s teeth strung together into some sort of necklace.

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Rodrigo L.

Peg and I shot our last suitcase on Monday the 9th of November 2015.  I will be editing that work in a day or two, and that will be it as far as what was in the New York State Museum collection.  Craig Williams seems to remember that there are a few cases that never went to the Museum that are in the Romulus Historical Society.  If so, we’ll try to track those down and photograph them.  I photographed the first case (Freda B) on the 17th of March 2011, and this has been quite an amazing ride.  I just want to thank all of you who follow the project for all the good wishes, support, and interest.  Now that the editing is just about done, I’ll be spending much of my time moving on to the next stage.  I’ll also take a minute to thank Peggy Ross again for her continued help.  I couldn’t have done this without her.

Willard Suitcases / Rodrigo L again

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Rodrigo L

I am back to editing more of Rodrigo L’s papers.  This is an amazing photo postcard. / Rodrigo lived in Salt Lake City during his high school years.  Many of his yearbooks are in his collection as well as a ton of materials related to his Pilipino experience in the US .

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Rodrigo L

He came to the American West sometime in the early part of the 20th Century, which makes me wonder what his experience adapting to his new life was like.

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Rodrigo L

You can check out the latest at the suitcases site.

I have just three more shoots to edit.  I have a feeling that when I finish that part of the project I will be very emotional and a little bit at sea.  Still lots to do though, including finding a publisher and museums / galleries for exhibits.  I started shooting the cases in March of 2011.  It has been quite a run.  Thanks for following.

Willard Suitcases / Madeline C

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Madeline C

I have posted about Madeline before and her possessions represent a very interesting life before she came to Willard.

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Madeline C

Throughout this project I have consciously tried to avoid obvious links between the objects in the collection and any sort of connection to being institutionalized, but  I found it interesting that this was the only recording among Madeline’s things.

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Madeline C

She came to Willard with a fairly complete record of her life in New York City, including her time studying at Columbia University and Hunter College.

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Madeline C

She seemed to be interested in philosophy.  There were quite a few references to Bergson in her papers.

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Madeline C

Her handwriting was really lovely.

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Madeline C

Her diaries were especially complete.

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Madeline C

I searched online for this poem thinking that she might have copied it as an exercise in writing in English (her first language was French), but nothing turned up.

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Madeline C

In any event, it is an incredible piece of writing.

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Madeline C

It is especially interesting how well her life was documented in photographs, and that most of the images also had their original negatives.  Looking at the dates in her diaries, many of these were taken in the 1920s.

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Madeline C

The fox stole around her neck in the picture on the right is something that one doesn’t see anymore.

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Madeline C

I have stayed in the Prince George Hotel on W. 27th Street twice in my life.  Once in high school with my friends Jay, Jeff, and Dennis.  That was an interesting trip!  And once sometime in the 80s shortly before it became an SRO.  Quite interesting as well.

You can check out the photos of Madeline’s cases at the Willard Suitcases site.  Click on “The Cases”, scroll to the bottom and click on Madeline C.  Be sure to click “view all” as there are many more than 25 images.  The site was hacked into recently and everything seems to be sorted now.  Huge thanks to Steve Fox at Born Digital Web Design for getting it fixed.  He’s the man if you need a photo site set up.

Willard Suitcases / Madeline C / UTMB

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Madeline C

I apologize for the long gap in posting about the suitcases.  It has been an incredibly busy time.  I have been devoting most of my mental energy getting prepared for a series of talks at the University of Texas Medical Branch that are scheduled for next week.  This is a huge honor for me, as I will be a visiting Osler scholar.  When I was in Galveston in 2016 presenting to NAMI Gulfcoast I was approached by Dr. Dwight Wolf about returning to speak at UT to the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences department.  Cristine and I fly out on Sunday (weather dependent), and there are events scheduled for the whole week.

Here is a rundown.

Monday the 15th – I’ll be speaking about the suitcases and my other work at the Galveston Arts Center from 6-8 pm.

Tuesday the 16th – Osler Club Grand Rounds, Temple B’nai Israel, 3008 Avenue O, Galveston.  I believe this is open to the public but reservations are required.

Earlier that day I will present the project to residents at UTMB.  This is not open to the public.

Wednesday the 17th – IMH Colloquium at UTMB during the lunch hour.  Jennie Sealy Hospital.  This might be open to the public, I’m not sure.

That evening I’ll be speaking at the Galveston Historical Foundation about the suitcases and my other documentary institutional work.  6-7 pm at Menard Hall, 3302 Avenue O, Galveston.

Thursday the 18th – There is an open mic event with Dr. Steve Fisher with a display of photographs of both of our work.  Dr. Fisher has been photographing the collection of medical specimens at UTMB.  Should be interesting.  3rd Floor Old Red.  I’ve been told it is an amazing building.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for following.

Willard Suitcases / Rodrigo L.

Willard Asylum Suitcases Rodrigo L ©2015 Jon Crispin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Rodrigo was an extremely literate man.  His collection of books was so interesting.

Willard Asylum Suitcases Rodrigo L ©2015 Jon Crispin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

He was a writer as well, as this editorial from his Salt Lake High School yearbook illustrates.

Willard Asylum Suitcases Rodrigo L ©2015 Jon Crispin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Rodrigo’s collection of books tells us so much about his view of the world.

Willard Asylum Suitcases Rodrigo L ©2015 Jon Crispin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

From reading his writings, I got the sense that he was a bit lonely, and deeply spiritual.

Willard Asylum Suitcases Rodrigo L ©2015 Jon Crispin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The autographs page of his yearbook had only his signature.

Willard Asylum Suitcases Rodrigo L ©2015 Jon Crispin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I love the logo for Oliver R. Meredith’s Trunk Factory.  I looked for information online about the business, and didn’t find much about the company, but did come across this great gallery of photographs of trunk manufacturers.

Willard Asylum Suitcases Rodrigo L ©2015 Jon Crispin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

From time to time I like to post a nice photo of Peggy Ross, whom I can never thank enough for her help throughout the years that we have spent documenting the collection of suitcases.  I literally could not (and would not) have done this work without her help.

Thanks for following.  Check out all of Rodrigo’s collection here.  Moving on to Michael B. tomorrow.

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