Archive for May, 2011

Around the Y

The Y B&W

A few years ago I bought some of Gene Smith’s equipment offered to me by his son, Patrick.  I wrote a piece about it which you can read HERE.  Part of the bundle was Smith’s 4×5 Sinar camera.  I took that camera to Rocky Mount, N.C. in Spring 2007, accompanied by the great platinum palladium photographer, Frank Hunter.  We made a photograph of the railroad tracks about 200 yards from Thelonious Monk’s birthplace, the neighborhood called “Around the Y,” named for the Y-shaped disjunction of tracks at the center of one of the largest rail yards in the Southeast at the time of Monk’s birth.

Frank did all the art work and the results are properly and fully his;  I merely possessed the camera and knew where the locations were.  Tonight he told me he recently made 8 limited edition 30×37 inch prints of this image, using the platinum palladium process on watercolor paper.  He showed me print #1, which sings, and has already sold.  The scan above doesn’t reproduce the bronze-brown textures and tones found in the print.  7 remain.  Frank can be reached directly through his site.


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Music in ‘The Tree of Life’

Alex Ross has posted a blog piece on the music in Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life which makes me want to see the movie even more.  Hopefully it’ll open around here this weekend.


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Mary Frank Postscript

My good friend Joe Henry reminded me this morning that Mary Frank is pictured (in a 1960 photo by John Cohen) on the cover of his album, Civilians.  That image is below.  I highly recommend that album, by the way, and the rest of Joe’s work.  Here’s a post I wrote about him when his last album, Blood From Stars, had photos by Gene Smith.


Also, to close this circle, John Cohen’s new work, Past, Present, Peru is remarkable.

-Sam Stephenson

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Mary Frank

My new piece on artist Mary Frank was posted this morning on Paris Review Daily, with photos by Kate Joyce.

Mary Frank's studio, NYC, 2011.  Photographs by Kate Joyce

Mary Frank's studio, NYC, 2011. Photographs by Kate Joyce

-Sam Stephenson

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“Sonny at Night, Clark in the Dark”

The New Yorker’s Richard Brody chimes in on my previous note on Sonny Clark and Treme and makes an excellent point about an earlier recording.

I highly recommend Brody’s piece on Terrence Malick from a few days ago.  I referenced Malick in my “Letter from Guam” to Nicole Rudick at Paris Review a couple of months ago.


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Sonny Clark Reference on HBO’s Treme

Delmond Lambreaux (holding case) with band

Delmond Lambreaux (front right) with band

Last night my wife Laurie and I were catching up on HBO’s series Treme and we watched Episode 13 which was broadcast on May 8.  I was stunned by a fleeting mention of Sonny Clark.  The scene was Delmond Lambreaux (actor Rob Brown) and his band at a diner in New York talking about their gig that night at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.  I had to rewind the scene several times to make sure.  Here’s how it went down:

Musician wearing hat (back center in photo above):  What about the encore?

Delmond:  Let’s do the Sonny Clark thing.

Pianist Jonathan Batiste (front left above):  News for Lulu?

Delmond:  Yeah.

About five seconds total.  My guess is that it’s the first time Sonny Clark’s name has been mentioned in prime time mainstream television history.

Afterward, I got in my car to drive to Chapel Hill and I cranked John Zorn’s version of News for Lulu from this excellent 1989 recording with Bill Frisell and George Lewis.

You can read my two pieces on Sonny Clark in Paris Review HERE and HERE.  I’ve recently been commissioned by Tin House to write 3000 words of new material on Clark for their Beauty issue to be published next fall.  I’ve located a couple more of Clark’s schoolmates from the Pittsburgh area so I’m excited to keep this eventual book moving.

-Sam Stephenson

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Don Adcock Tribute in News & Observer

This nice piece on Don Adcock ran today.  HERE is the piece I wrote on him on him last week.


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Writing on photography technique?

I spent Friday in a darkroom at N.C. State University with Raleigh photographer David Simonton.  We experimented with some of Gene Smith’s darkroom methods.  David is a deep thinker and natural teacher.  I’ve interviewed a number of Smith’s assistants, including recently in Japan, but I told David to start from a blank slate.  He did a masterful job.  First thing in the morning we sat around his kitchen table and he pulled sections from about 8 different books dating back to the 1950s, a few of which I’d not seen.  Then we moved to State’s Craft Center to make prints and the last part of our day was spent working with ferricyanide on prints.  For me, it was a first step toward writing well about technique in Gene Smith’s Sink. There are more steps to take.  I want the writing to appeal to experts as well as mainstream readers.

Thus, I have a question:  What is your favorite writing about photographic technique?  Could be how-to, from a biography, from a novel, anything.

Many thanks for any responses, here or to me directly.

-Sam Stephenson

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Jazz Loft Project Gallery Talk

CDS Exhibitions director Courtney Reid-Eaton will be giving a gallery talk at the Nasher Museum on June 2.  She has overseen the installations in New York, Chicago, and the Nasher Museum, all very different.  So it will be interesting to hear her talk about adapting this material to each space.

-JLP Staff

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IN MY MIND Film Clip

HERE, you can check out a clip of Gary Hawkins’ film based on Jason Moran’s show at Town Hall, IN MY MIND.

HERE, you can read Sam Stephenson’s history of that most excellent collaboration.

-JLP Staff

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