Getting Here -out of Art School

There was a time, the early 70s, when a small list, your teachers and fellow students could get you to a large world of artists. Not the entire world, but certainly a grand sampling. Ask 3 people to introduce you to another few people, who introduce you, who help even more, until – BAM, a contact list. Just 3 months work… it could be done again, only the names would be different.

that group:

Bob Flick;Joel Meyerowitz; Van Deren Coke; Joe Deal;  Ron Walker;  Lee Witkin;  Al Sweetman;  Don Drowty; Ellen Brooks;  Dennis Hearne;  Elaine Mayes; Bart Parker;  Larry Sultan;  Ed West;  Arthur Siegel;Leonard Freed;  Margery Mann;  Harry Callahan; Gary Metz; Peter Gowland;  Ansel Adams;  Ed Ruscha; Grace Mayer;  Mike Mandel;  Harold Allen;  Laura Gilpin;  Hank Smith;  Anne Tucker;  Phil Perkis;  Michael Simon;  Bill Owens; Manuel Bravo;  Nathan Lyons;  Bill Arnold;  Jim Hajicek;  Les Krims;  Joyce Neimanas; Judy Dater;  Al Coleman;  Ira Nowinski; Jack Welpott; Linda Parry;  Burke Uzzle;  Jim Dow;  Dave Freund; Todd Walker;  Catherine Jansen;  Eva Rubinstein;  Eddie Sievers; Minor White; Michael Becotte;  Fred McDarrah;  Richard Link;  Betty Hahn; Nick Hlobeczy; Bob Cumming;Ken Josephson;  Naomi Savage;  John Divola; Tom Barrow; Carl Chiarenza; Bea Nettles;  Roger Mertin;  John Benson; Cal Kowal;  Aaron Siskind;  R. von Sternberg;  Paige Pinnell;  Arthur Tress;  Jacob Deschin;  Linda Connor; Don Blumbeing;  Jim Alinder;  Harold Jones;  M.J. Walker;  Bill Parker; Al Woolpert;  Duke Baltz; Gus Kayafas;Duane Michals;  Darryl Curran; Arnold Newman; Geoff Winningham; Paul Vanderbilt; Anne Noggle; Timo Pajunen;Edmund Teske; Imogen Cunningham; Andy Anderson;  Bill Larson;  Pete Bunnell; Robert Doherty;  Joe Jachna; Oscar Bailey; Jerry Uelsmann; Art Sinsabaugh;  Charles Roitz;  Doug Stewart; Chuck Swedlund;  Bill Edwards;  Bobby Heinecken;  Micha Bar-Am;  Beaumont Newhall;  Wynn Bullock; Jerry McMillan;  John Schulze; Neal Slavin; Lee Rice; Joan Lyons; Bill Jenkins; Fred Sommer;  Barbara Crane; Emmet Gowin; Barbara Morgan; Mark Power;  Cornell Capa;  Lionel Suntop; Bunny Yeager; Doug Prince;  Eileen Cowin;  Eve Sonneman; Reg Heron;  Scott Hyde;Conrad Pressma;  John Szarkowski;  Bill Eggleston;  Mike Bishop;  Bob Fichter; Liliane DeCock; Tom Porett;  Arnold Crane; Arnold Gassan;  Elliott Erwitt;  Len Gittleman;

Many are gone. Most aren’t even remembered, yet at one time they were the time.

Post, expanded —

(8/27/17) … In an online world, experts like to block, to maintain their own value, self-appraisal. I have this blog, others choose to hold forth in sponsored forums. One person asked a question of me about the above, which I thought I’d prefaced correctly with the (now bolded section). Anyway, his question:

“What is the source of your list?” (Merg Ross)

He may not be expert blocking. I don’t know. Rather than answer back on that forum, I’ll expand here just a bit.

I began photography seriously by learning dye transfer. After just a few weeks of training, I was making airbrushed separation negatives; reading every scrap of information I could. These first efforts were in technique, the same thing every learning does – get the elementary done; collect all the elements you can handle. In doing that, I noticed that the Kodak materials were not complete, even somewhat scattered, or even outright wrong. What should be done? I contacted Kodak. Made a call to the main switchboard. After a few transfers, I got hold of a woman who had written some of the dataguides. Jeanette was the first person I spoke to who knew the famous. And she was generous with introductions. Like many structural keepers, she shared easily after qualification. She told me about Henry Holmes Smith at Indiana. I visited him, but didn’t feel that school was my path…not at that stage. I was a working commercial photographer able to set my own schedule; able to make any pictures I wanted on my time.

Then (a few years on) came my draft notice. I went. I returned. My DEROS was to Oakland Terminal in the middle of the night I was ‘exited.’ With cash in hand I went into San Francisco.

The next morning, I walked to a camera store to get supplies, which they didn’t have; however, the counter clerk told me about Adolph Gasser out on Geary Boulevard. It was there that I met Gene Saunders, the salesman who sold me my enlarger. He also told me about a new gallery that was exclusively photography.

Focus Gallery on Union Street was a haven for the world of photographers. Helen Head Johnson was the keeper. I showed her some of my dye transfers. She began introducing me to people, and suggested I check out SFAI since I had the GI bill and no real job. She told me to be certain to talk to Margery Mann.

I did. I enrolled. I got an MFA. The program was small, some of my fellow students were Larry Sultan, Mike Mandel, Harry Bowers, Adal Maldonado …

Oh, one other thing: a friend from the Army days worked for the phone company at Pine/Bush with something called ESS. He had access to every phone in the US. Everyone who had a phone, he had their address. Sweet. So, for awhile, I published something called the Contact Sheet – an address book for fine artists who wanted to connect.