Walker Evans - Cemetery, Bethlehem PA, 1935
On my way to give a talk about my punk photography yesterday at the Allentown Art Museum's Who Shot Rock exhibition in Pennsylvania, I unexpectedly found myself in the shadow of one of my photographic idols Walker Evans. In my haste to prepare for my talk, I had not foreseen that Allentown was only miles away from Bethlehem and Easton PA, locations of some of Walker Evans greatest photographs included in his classic 1938 book American Photographs. In fact, before I had even arrived at the Allentown Art Museum, I had Eileen stop the car in a town square blocks away, so I could take this photograph.
Which upon my return to the city, I realized was similar via memory to this Walker Evans shot.
Walker Evans - Main Street Pennsylvania Town, 1936
And so began an adventurous journey into the many layers of my photographic past. The talk went well indeed. From Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Weegee & Brassai, to the Bowery in 1976, I speckled the presentation of my CBGB photography - titled Once Upon a Time on the Bowery - with clips from one of my favorite photography films - Blow-Up. Directed in 1966 by Michelangelo Antonioni, with David Hemmings cast as the "swinging sixties" photographer David Bailey, it was the first film that actually took me into a real darkroom, a real studio, and in fact a real nightclub. With an early intense performance by Vanessa Redgrave, and the classic Yardbirds nightclub scene - this was the film that no doubt eventually drew me to purchase my first Pentax Spotmatic and eerily predicted my "brilliant career" in rock photography.
"I'm only doing my job. Some people are bullfighters. Some people are politicians. I'm a photographer."
But back to the Allentown Art Museum, where the current layout of the Who Shot Rock exhibition, thoughtfully laid out & more intimate with it's small walls than even the Brooklyn show - lives on. As I said the talk went well. The audience hung in there with my eclectic references that strayed between the history of photography, the history of punk, and the history of me. Thank you.
From there it was back on the road, a few photographs of Allentown, and a stop at the - how could I not? - Bethlehem Diner.