First Words — 05 January 2013
The photos we keep in preservation halls

In the room the men and women come and go, talking of Satchmo.

“These are images almost from a lost world now,’’ art dealer and gallery owner Barbara Gillman says to the audience at a preview of All That Jazz: Photographs of Jazz Legends, now through May at Miramar Cultural Center ArtsPark. “In many cases, it would be impossible to recreate them again.’’

I look up at the black-and-white portraits of Louis “Satchmo’’ Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Dexter Gordon, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis and other greats, and I know that she’s right. We shall not see their like again – only their likenesses in gallery halls.

They say a photograph is worth a thousand words. If that’s true, this issue’s worth about a book or two. We spend time gazing at William P. Gottlieb’s image of Satchmo here; then, from the same show in Miramar, we share Gottlieb’s equally stunning portrait of Billie Holiday on the
Arts & Letters page, 114. On page 79, contributing writer Dave Wieczorek visits the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, which is mounting an exhibition of some of celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz’s less-celebrated work. Finally, we drop in on the Boca Raton Museum of Art, where a 50-year retrospect of the American fashion industry is about to begin. As you can see from our cover, it includes a few unforgettable images as well.

It’s not surprising great photographs elicit such fascination – or that three of our museums are putting on shows almost at the same time featuring photography. As Gillman says, a photograph really can be a portal to a lost world. It can say more about our life and times in a glance than it would take a speaker an hour to explain, a writer a thousand words to pen.

“Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph,’’ a poet once wrote. “Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.’’

For the next few months here, we are all left with much.

Mark Gauert,
mgauert@cityandshore.com


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