Sunday, July 29, 2007

Johnny Cash

Like many people my age, when I was a kid in Brooklyn, I grew up knowing who Johnny Cash was and who Ray Charles was, but I was not at all interested in their music.

I find it peculiar that now, after the two hit biographical movies came out about these two music giants (and both Jamie Fox and Joaquin Phoenix did such great jobs in recreating Charles and Cash's music), my interest -- along that of millions of new fans -- has been kindled for their music.

My house backs to up to a large park in Media, PA, and they have a stage there which is set-up for outdoor concerts, sort of a mini Wolf Trap. I can walk there from my house, so once in a while we walk and sit in for whoever is playing.

Last night Johnny Cash was playing. Well, actually David Stone and the Johnny Cash Experience, but let me tell you, this man was amazing!

He is not a Johnny Cash impersonator, but clearly a highly talented artist and someone who has studied Cash's life, music, mannerisms, voice and style for many, many years, and now delivers a nearly scary ability to assume the role of the man in black.

He was really good.

Stone did not try to impersonate Cash, but rather walked the audience through Cash's life and music, while at the same time sounding, looking and playing exactly like the real man in black.

The few thousand people in the audience -- which covered the whole range of ages, although oddly enough I noticed a lot of tattooed women, not just one or two tattoos either, but whole arms and chests covered in them -- really enjoyed Stone's performance and were on their feet several times.

He was really good.

Corcoran responds to my idea

A few days ago I discussed one idea that I had sent the Corcoran for possible inclusion in their Ansel Adams exhibition. And below, Paul Roth, Curator of Photography and Media Arts at the Corcoran Gallery of Art responds:

Dear Lenny,

Paul Greenhalgh and Philip Brookman have referred your letter of July 12 to me for response, as I am the in-house curator supervising the Corcoran's installation of the Ansel Adams exhibition. Please accept my apology for the lateness of this reply; our coming photography exhibitions have had many pressing deadlines the last couple of weeks.

First, regarding your suggestion about the public domain set of Ansel Adams photographs at the Library of Congress. This idea is interesting and would no doubt be a feature valued by many of our visitors. Unfortunately, a variety of reasons--relating to logistics, timing, available space, and other factors--make this an impossible option for us at this time. Another major issue for us is our consideration of the best way to balance presentation of two major exhibitions by two very different photographers.

With reference to the issues you raise, I am encouraged by the fact that the technology now in use by the Library of Congress allows people to download many if not all of the Adams images directly from home, in reasonably large digital files. Over the years digital availability at the Library has evolved to minimize the complications presented by institutional bureaucracy, the large volume of print orders, and staffing limitations. For a very long time, several-month waits were the norm when people would order prints (of any of millions of pictures in the public domain, not just Adams) from the LOC in gelatin silver. The downloading feature of the LOC website is going a long way to making access more direct.

Finally, I'd like to thank you for mentioning the issue of collaboration with other institutions (in your blog a couple days back). Collaboration is something that is very important to us, and we have had many professional interactions with a number of museums, alternative art spaces, non-profits, libraries, and archives over the years. Since I came to the Corcoran eleven years ago I have had three opportunities to collaborate with the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division and Photoduplication Office on exhibitions: HALF PAST AUTUMN: THE ART OF GORDON PARKS; PROPAGANDA AND DREAMS: PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE 1930S IN THE US AND USSR; and THE QUILTS OF GEE'S BEND. Each was a great experience. While I appreciate your suggestion that these interactions can be difficult, we have found ways to work together very productively for the benefit of our audience.

Best wishes,

Good points all.