Week 13 – Intermediate Photography

This is the first roll of not-expired Tri-X since I started the whole William Klein project.  Well, it expired December 2014, I guess, but that hardly counts.

That last photo (a very shaky, Kleinesque portrait) is someone you may have heard of: Bob Jackson is something of a local celebrity, and a really cool guy.  There is an exhibition of his work at Godec’s Photo at the moment.  He’s lived in and around Colorado Springs for the past 35 years, and made his name as a photographer for this image:

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The Murder of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby – Robert H. Jackson
(and it won the 1964 Pulitzer)

I really wish I could have shown something more than just the picture everyone knows, because he made some great images over the years, of which I saw many in the exhibition, my favorite being a closeup of a fat girl with pigtails and huge sunglasses dancing in the streets with a sign that says “Someone you love is gay.”  He also gave us a little slideshow of pictures not installed in the gallery, and many of them are portraits of celebrities from the old days, from Louis Armstrong and Carroll Shelby (who gave him his start in photography and was a lifelong friend) to Robert Mitchum and Peter Ustinov, The Beatles, Cher, and many more.

Oswald’s something that he was willing to talk about when I saw him in person, which I wasn’t expecting.  I had said “I’m sure you’re all talked out about that,” to which he replied something to the effect of “I know it all by heart now.”  He’s not a big fan of the conspiracy theories (I asked him about JFK the movie, he’s not impressed with it), and was one of the eyewitnesses to Oswald’s gun barrel poking out of the book depository window.  He’s made a good point of it, too: by now, if there had been a conspiracy, surely someone would have made a deathbed confession by now.  I also asked him about this image below:

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He said the guy who had modified it (evidently George E. Mahlberg?) hadn’t asked permission, but they worked something out and Jackson ended up getting some nice royalties off it for many years, and free t-shirts too.  I’m jealous, I want a t-shirt!  My sole encounter with the picture is that it was used as a poster on display at Central City Recording for a local band, the New Bomb Turks, as their farewell show in 1996 (I think, though they evidently reformed).  I have no idea if this was the original use of it or not, but it would have been around the same time, still with the Dead Kennedys symbol spray painted on the wall in the background, I don’t know if I’d consider that evidence for or against.  Either way, that picture still makes me chuckle.  He was pretty blase about the whole affair, I get the impression he doesn’t quite get why it’s funny, but he wasn’t bent out of shape about it either.

Jackson is retired from photography now, except for smart phone shots of the grandkids, he says.  This is, I believe, his first solo exhibition, and besides the pleasure of seeing his images in person, it was a privilege to meet him and hear him talk.

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(and take his picture)

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