The Art Institute of Chicago went out on a limb showing a large selection of portraits by Yousuf Karsh called Regarding Heroes (January 22 - April 26, 2009). There are elements of kitsch and passion that make his work defiantly out of tune with current portraiture be it overly PhotoShopped pictures of pretty people or the deadpan view camera work of so many contemporary practitioners. Karsh's In Search of Greatness was about the only photography book the Manitowoc Public Library had when we first moved back to this small Wisconsin town. The mass-circulated book from 1962 showed off the lush vision of Karsh. Smoldering cigarettes, chewed on cigars, long white eye brow hairs, glasses of booze and rich facial texture emerged from the blackness. It was great to see the large and immaculate silver gelatin prints on display in Chicago where the details crackeld from the prints framed and hanging there on the classic burlap covered walls of the basement photography gallery. This was curator David Travis' last show for the AIC and it rocked as Lisa D. would say.
We became interested in how four Wisconsin men (a poet, a dancer, a farmer and a retired factory worker turned outdoor sculptor) experienced the 20th century. Bob, Barry, Herman and Paul lived through most of it--witnessing the introduction of telephones, televisions, automobiles, atomic bombs, and flush toilets into everyday life. They also witnessed the waging of numerous wars and staggering economic shifts. We photographed the four men, recorded their stories and made a 16 mm film about them. In 2008, we compiled a portion of our accumulated material into a book, One Million Years is Three Seconds (96 pages). We've installed the photographs, film loops and ephemera at Turner Art Center Gallery, Shreveport, LA, Caestecker Gallery, Ripon, WI, and Wriston Art Center Galleries, Appleton, WI.