“It’s Chili Time”

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Ferenc Berko (1916-2000), [Hamburger and chili stand, Chicago], 1949 (593.1993)

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Weegee (1899-1993), [Hot Dog with Chili Con Carne], ca. 1950 (19049.1993)

According to foodtimline.org chili con carne originated in San Antonio, Texas in the late 1800s.

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Bill Wood (1912-1973), [Display of Patio Mexican Foods Canned Products, Fort Worth, Texas], 1953 (2011.2.39)

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Bill Wood (1912-1973), [“It’s Chili Time”: Canned chili and saltines display, Fort Worth, Texas], 1960 (2011.2.101)


“A Mark of Wholesome Meat,” U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1964
From The Prelinger Archives on archive.org

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Malcolm X

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Gordon Park
s, L.A. Courtroom, Malcolm X displaying pictures of Muslim Ronald Stokes, killed by police a year earlier,  1963 (178.2003)

In the May 31st, 1963 issue of Life magazine, Gordon Parks wrote a compelling article. Together with his photographs and through the words of his personal observations and conversations, Parks examined the position of the African-American community during the Civil Rights Movement.

The excerpt below highlights the context of the photograph Parks took during the trial of 14 Muslim men. The men were charged with the assault and interference of a police officer after Ronald Stokes, an unarmed young Muslim man, had been killed by police gun fire. Gordon Parks:

“I watched Malcolm X seated in the front row, directly across from the all-white jury. His face was sphinxlike and his eyes never left Officer Donald Weese, the killer of Stokes, from the moment the policeman took the stand until he got off. During the preliminary hearings it had been established that Weese, though he knew the Muslims were unarmed, shot at least four other men besides Stokes and beat another one down with the butt of his gun. The following questions by Attorney Earl Broady and answers from Officer Weese are from the court records of the trial:
Question–Mr. Weese, when you fired at Stokes, did you intend to hit him?
Answer–Yes, I did.
Q–Did you intend to hit him and kill him?
A–Yes. The fact that I shot to stop and the fact that I shot to kill is one and the same, sir. I am not Hopalong Cassidy. I cannot distinguish between hitting an arm and so forth, sir. I aimed dead center and I hoped I hit.
Q–You are saying, sir, to shoot is to stop and to shoot to kill is one and the same thing in your mind.
A–That is correct.
Q–Did you feel to protect yourself and your partner it was necessary to kill these men?
A–That is correct, sir.

Further along in the article Parks writes:

[But] with the passiveness of King and the extremism of Muhammad, the Negro rebellion has come alive. Fire hoses, police dogs, mobs or guns can’t put it down. The Muslims, the N.A.A.C.P., the Urban League, Black Nationalist groups, the sit-inners, sit-downers. Freedom Riders and what-have-you are all compelled into a vortex of common protest. Black people who only a few months ago spoke with the polite moderation are suddenly clamoring for freedom.

52 years ago today, February 21st, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated onstage at the Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom. He was 39 years old.

This post is published to honor African American History Month.

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Early Light/Radiant AG-1B (C-902)

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Marco Breuer, Early Light/Radiant AG-1B (C-902), 2009 (2011.59.1)

Marco Breuer was born in 1966 in Landshut, Germany. Since his move to New York in 1993, the vast majority of his work has been cameraless, abstract imagery on paper. He uses chromogenic paper, which consists of three separate color emulsion layers that are developed in a liquid bath. In a restrained markmaking, Breuer often scrapes away emulsion to reveal new tonal variation, challenging the definition of photography. Breuer’s body of abstract photographic work reveals his commitment to medium specificity. Early Light/Radiant  AG-1B (C-902) is an uncommon departure from the direct index of the artist’s hand. This fairly representational photograph is fascinating for being so uncharacteristic of Breuer, but more so because the ambiguity of a sunrise or sunset is apt subject matter for him. Breuer is an artist whose work finds its genesis in mining the fixed traces of photons, but whose beloved analog process becomes more rare every day.

Sam Margevicius, ICP-Bard 2017

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[Wooden chair in front of a landscape backdrop]

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Unidentified Photographer, [Wooden chair in front of a landscape backdrop], ca. 1860-1900 (2014.77.3)

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Sandinista uprising

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Susan Meiselas, Sandino vive, Estelí, Nicaragua, 1980 (2008.86.9)

American photographer Susan Meiselas joined Magnum Photos in 1976 and has worked as a freelance photographer since. She is best known for the work she did documenting the 1978–79 Sandinista uprising in Nicaragua and the decade of political upheaval that followed in El SalvadorArgentinaColombia, and Chile. The FSLN (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, Sandinista National Liberation Front) party is named after Augusto César Sandino, who led the Nicaraguan resistance against the United States occupation of Nicaragua in the 1930s. The FSLN remains one of Nicaragua’s two leading political parties.

Meiselas’s widely published photographs made during this period are notable for the groundbreaking use of color at a time when most war photography and most US newspapers were still printed in black and white. In 2004, Meiselas returned to Nicaragua for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the uprising, installing nineteen mural-sized screens of her photographs in four towns where the pictures were taken and recorded the reactions of the Nicaraguan public.

Nechama Winston, ICP-Bard 2017

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A Cat Orchestra


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Frank Wendt, [Cat Orchestra], ca. 1900 (2011.47.101)

Notes from the Pawnee Bill Show. This season, notwithstanding the bad weather, has been the most prosperous season on our tour. Through the State of Maine we encountered almost incessant rain, and the drawing power of this show cannot be questioned, as day after day we stood them up in the rain. The privileges have all done well. The roster of our side show is: H. G. Wilson, manager and orator; Jos. Ferris and Chas. A. Downey, ticket sellers; John Conant and W. A. Hundley, ticket takers. The attractions are: Mme. Van Buskirk, mind reader; Beatrix Roderico, snake charmer; Ruth Parkinson, sword walker; Cisco, the Australian wonder; Prof. Burkhart, Punch and magic; Geo. Devers, tattooed man; Sundhoo, Hindoo wonder worker; Escalona, Mexican feather worker; J. James, human crucifixion; Jerry Thompson, cowboy whittler; Prof. Antonio Latrano’s Cat Orchestra
New York Clipper, October 25, 1902, pp. 763, 764, 765, from circushistory.org

Perhaps the “Prof Antonio” that’s scribbled on the back of this photo the is the same Professor Antonio Latrano who led a cat orchestra in the Pawnee Bill show in the beginning of the last century. There’s a great book about Frank Wendt, Hoofers and Sweethearts: The Little Women of Frank Wendt, by Jim Linderman, from Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books, more information here.

Apparently, musically, cats prefer “species specific” music and not improvisational, lo-fi, DIY, post-industrial, sludge, shoegaze, freak folk, minimalist, nor Musique Concrete. (Few things in life are better than Terry Fox’s “The Labyrinth Scored for 11 Cats,” 1977). Getting this orchestra to rehearse was probably like hearding cats. Would love to hear the music this orchestra made, it must have sounded purrfect.

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Southern Rites

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Gillian Laub, Homecoming Court, Mt. Vernon, Georgia, October 2002 (2013.91.2)

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Gillian Laub, Prom King and Queen Dance, Vidalia, Georgia, May 2009 (2013.91.1)

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Gillian Laub, Prom King and Queen Dance, Vidalia, Georgia, May 2011 (2013.91.7)

Southern Rites by photographer Gillian Laub is a series of photographs that tell the story of the historically racially segregated proms in the town of Mt. Vernon in Georgia. Although the schools had been integrated since 1971, each spring and fall the proms would be segregated. This ended in 2011. Ms. Laub visited the town for the first time in 2002 and returned the following years to continue to document the stories that she encountered. Her photos of stories related to the segregated proms were first published in The New York Times Magazine and caused a national outrage. Under pressure the proms were unified and turned into one prom. In the introduction of the portfolio Gilian Laub writes:

Change was not my original intent. Photography for me is a deeply intimate engagement with individuals in which everything is personal and the closer you get, the more black and white resolves to gray. Photography enables me to look beyond the surface socio-political context -and explore a psychological and emotional landscape that often reveals deeper, more universal truths. I suppose on some level I always hope the revelation of these truths have impact -through an image that illuminates real humanity we are able to imagine, if only for a moment, that unbridgeable divides can somehow, because of what we all share, be surmounted.

This post is published to honor African American History Month.

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