My head is just exploding with ideas for a "gallery," as I remember one thing or another that I have squirreled away here or there. I use the scare quotes because it wouldn't be a gallery in the conventional sense. It would be more like a 19th century museum, stuffed to the gills with curios and oddities and loads of stuff that would be ultra-cool to deep photo geeks.
I've never made a great effort to "collect" in the conventional sense, but I've come across things in my peregrinations through photography that are just too cool to throw away. Moreover, I know where a lot of cool things are. Larry McMurtry , who, besides being an author is an antiquarian bookseller prima inter pares, once told me that he tracks books around the country and the world in his head. He knows where things are. If he sold a book to X, he knows that X then sold it to Y who then donated it to K, but K isn't exhibiting it, so the book is in storage at K. Like that. He knows where thousands and thousands of books are. This is deep geekery—Al Kalmbach, the late founder of Kalmbach Publishing, which produces many railway and train magazines, reportedly memorized train schedules for the entire country for fun—such that, if he were driving through Kansas and heard a train whistle in the distance coming from the Southwest, he could tell you what train it was, and the time it had departed from its point of origin and the time it was due at its destination—to the minute.
I can't say my photo geekery runs that deep, but as I've been mulling it over these last 24 hours, I keep coming up with stuff. Things I know about. Things I could track down. For example, I know where the enlarger is on which Robert Frank printed the original prints for The Americans. Could I get that for display? Almost certainly not. But that's the kind of thing I mean.
I've been thinking about esoteric things such as, how would you display an extinction meter so people could see how it works? I have signed books, rare photos, personal items that once belonged to famous photographers, portraits of famous photographers, ancient equipment, equipment with provenance, ancient instruction manuals—all sorts of oddities that would delight and amuse fellow photo buffs.
Building up a little public museum/gallery would suit my way of working, too, because I could chip away at it. Some people are good at big, grand projects...I'm better at things I can do a little bit at a time, because historically I suffered from depression and had to learn to deal with inspiration and energy that was fleeting and intermittent. But as I think about this, each little item or display would be its own blog post—and in that way, I could get input on how best to present things, ancillary items I might need to add, other peoples' ideas for how best to display something, etc.—which would not only help, but be a lot of fun to talk about as well.
The local summer grocery store near where my new house is (by pure coincidence, it's called T.O.P., short for "The Olney Place") is open from May 1 to October 31st, so I'd probably have the museum/gallery open during that same time frame, staffed by either a student from nearby Keuka college or a local retiree.
My head overfloweth with ideas. This could really be a lot of fun....
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Featured Comments from:
Dennis Huteson: "Life's greatest pleasure is to be Enthused."
William Furniss: "'Don't forget to write!'"
Roger Botting: "And what is wrong with having your mind filled with near-useless clutter? Knowing arcane details about long-obsolete colour processing times or knowing about the many tints and finishes of print paper that could only be bought in 1/2 plate size? Photo geekdom lives on that. That is what makes you the terror of every camera store staff person, the customer who really does know more than the staff person. And that is worth living for."