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Courtesy O. Winston Link Museum
The Link Museum’s “Photographs of Vivian Maier” show consists of 32 photographs on loan from the Jackson Fine Art Gallery in Atlanta. Prints of the images, found after her death, start at $1,800.
Courtesy O. Winston Link Museum
Vivian Maier took more than 100,000 photos of American street life, like the image above, but never showed her work before her death in 2009.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Chicago nanny Vivian Maier , who died in 2009, might be the Emily Dickinson of black-and-white photography.
Dickinson, acknowledged as one of the giants of American poetry, wrote more than 18,000 poems, but only a handful were published while she lived. The rest were discovered after her death in 1886.
Maier took more than 100,000 photographs of street life in Chicago, but apparently never attempted to show them, and even left thousands undeveloped. The accidental discovery of those photographs by a Chicago real estate agent and historian eventually led to an international sensation.
“The release of every fresh image on the Web causes a sensation among the growing legion of her admirers,” wrote a photography blogger for The New York Times, and a review in the same publication called her “a new candidate for the pantheon of great 20th-century street photographers.”
Soon Roanoke Valley residents won’t have to travel far to experience this new photography phenom . “Photographs of Vivian Maier” opens with a reception at 7 p.m. Friday at the O. Winston Link Museum and remains until May 6.
“They are truly a time capsule of mid-century Chicago and one woman’s experience as she traveled its streets,” wrote Link Museum Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator Erin Wommack in an email.
Maier remains a mysterious figure. Born in 1926 in New York City, she traveled between the United States and France through her youth. In 1951 she returned to New York, where she began practicing photography. Five years later she moved to Chicago, where she worked as a nanny and remained the rest of her life.
Like Dickinson, she never married and had no children. Chicago historian John Maloof purchased a box of 30,000 negatives without knowing what they were, then stunned people when he began posting her photographs to Flickr.com. According to a BBC article, “The response was overwhelming: hundreds of comments from shocked and impressed viewers.”
A Slate.com article that dubs her body of work “the greatest photo collection never seen” reports on the efforts of a pair of biographers to find a confidant over the course of her long life who might shed some insight on her artistic passion. They came back empty-handed.
Wommack said that the museum’s previous education coordinator, Leah Gardner, became fascinated by Maier’s story and photos more than a year ago and suggested her work as an exhibition at the Link.
The museum sent a request last year to the Jackson Fine Art Gallery in Atlanta that sells prints of Maier’s work in editions of 15. According to the gallery, individual print prices start at $1,800.
The show at the Link consists of 32 photographs on loan from the gallery.
“After the rest of the staff heard the extraordinary tale of these images being fastidiously snapped for decades and how they were nearly lost forever, we knew that we had to bring Maier’s work here,” Wommack said.
The Link Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Admission $5, senior citizens $4.50, children 3-11 $4. For more information, call 982-5465 or visit linkmuseum.org.
‘Best in Show’
The Roanoke Valley SPCA’s annual “Best in Show” fundraiser will begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the atrium of the Taubman Museum of Art.
More than 200 artists have contributed paintings, drawings and sculptures that will be for sale during the reception. As a new element, participants were encouraged to create artistic versions of dog and cat houses and pet beds. At least half the proceeds of each sale benefit the animal welfare organization. Purchased pieces can be picked up after 8 p.m. Friday.
The physical show lasts only through Friday evening, though a virtual exhibit and sale of the remaining unsold art will continue through the end of March on the Roanoke Valley SPCA’s website and Facebook pages.
The nonprofit’s calendar committee will select a piece from the show for the cover of its 2014 Pet Calendar. Last year, Troutville artist Judith Lochbrunner won the Best in Show prize with her painted paper collage “Play Day.”
Other prizes will be awarded by guest judge Karen-Sam Norgard, an artist and professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. Sponsored by HomeTown Bank, the event will feature music from the Jeff Todd Trio.
Admission is $5; children 12 and under, $1. For more information, call 339-9247 or visit rvspca.org/events or the Roanoke Valley SPCA page on Facebook.
The H2O Heater at 813 Fifth Street S.W. in Roanoke will play host to a truly unusual multimedia performance at 7 p.m. March 1.
Anna Roberts-Gevalt of Blacksburg and Elizabeth LaPrelle of Rural Retreat perform Appalachian ballads with fiddle and banjo and share Appalachian folklore to celebrat e Southwest Virginia culture.
They add a visual artistic twist, creating illustrations on long rolls of paper that are spooled by hand crank during the performances.
The scrolling, backlit images match the songs and stories, creating a sort of low-tech movie that the pair call “crankies.” Occasionally the pair uses shadow puppetry to give a “crankie” an added element of animation.
The show is free, with a suggested donation of $5 to $10. For more information visit http://tinyurl.com/crankies.
On the Arts blog
Read guest reviews of regional art exhibitions, such as “Anne Ferrer: Hot Pink” at the Taubman Museum of Art and The Roanoke Valley Reef at Roanoke College, written by Hollins University students in professor Ruth Epstein’s art criticism class at blogs.roanoke.com/arts.
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