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Wednesday, 05 March 2014


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It's my good fortune to be spending the rest of this miserable long cold winter in the Tucson area, beginning Monday. Thanks for the tip, one of many worthwhile activities to put on the schedule.

You should crawl out of your cave and come down to see the show (listed in the most current post) at the CCP. It's supposed to be in the 80's into next week. Be glad to buy you a cup of Starbucks 8^).

Thanks for the heads-up!

Charles has a (slightly buggy — linking to internal page here) website where I remember reading The Multi-Level Picture Story, which I thought was very good.

I have an indirect Charles Harbutt story. I loved his work in the sixties, and in 1969 I was a candidate for a college traveling scholarship. Two of the selection committee members were professors I'd gotten A grades from, the third was a stranger. I was not in a photography program, and neither was the scholarship program, but I took a chance and emphasized my desire to do text and picture work on the trip. I was selected, and later found out the unknown professor was kindly disposed toward photography—he had been Harbutt's college roommate.

Thanks so much for the heads-up on Charles Harbutt, Mike. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I knew virtually nothing about him despite his Magnum background, despite his Chicago connection, and even despite the Art Institute of Chicago having a dozen of his prints in the collection ... which I may very well have seen. So I just clicked Buy on his new book.

Thanks also for the tip on "Behind Photographs" which I also ordered today. (Thanks, also to John for the tip on it being a crappy e-read!) These mini-survey books tend to be rather insubstantial but I really want to see all of those big-ass Polaroid portraits. I get a (strange) kick from instant chemical photography.

A blast from the past!

I bought my copy of Travelog sometime in the mid-70s. It sits on the shelf alongside Landscapes by Burk Uzzle, Notations in Passing by Nathan Lyons, and American Images by Dennis Feldman; all printed about the same size, around the same time, and all very good.

In 1976 I took a week-long class with Mr. Harbutt at the Visual Studies Workshop. I was a callow youth at best; I had turned 21 just a few days before, But he was patient with me, and I learned a great deal in that short time. Some of which has stayed with me for all those years and all those photographs. My personal pictures don't look much like his, but I've always liked his work, and like you, I cherish my signed copy of 'Travelog'. Glad to hear that he's getting some recognition, and I'll have to check out his new book.

Thanks for the Harbutt article. I took a week-long workshop with him in Minneapolis in the early 1970s. Two things stick in my mind.

First, there was a bunch of junk lined up along a wall of the second-floor of the commercial building where the workshop was held. The handles of a bicycle protruded above the general line of the junk, like the horns of a bull. I took a picture of the scene, and the next day showed the contact sheet to Harbutt. He looked at it very briefly, scanning all the pictures, and asked "Did you notice that the bicycle isn't there anymore?" I was most impressed by his quick sight and visual memory.

Second, he set us the task of photographing in the neighborhood, and left a few minutes before us to do his own shooting. We watched from a window as he passed two men on the street engaged in a loud shouting match, who looked as if they might get into an interesting fight. Harbutt walked past them with his camera in a bag over his shoulder, looked at them briefly but walked on. Later we asked him why he hadn't taken a picture of what looked like an interesting scene. He responded that he thought the situation was too volatile and he didn't want to inflame it or get involved. A lesson in good judgment for street photography.

I got "Travelog" about that time. It's still on my shelf, and I was glad to be reminded to browse it again.

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