The GRTC bus that ferried me to First Fridays last week couldn’t stop at Ninth Street due to construction. I was headed over to see the Hatch Show Print exhibition, “American Letterpress,” at the Library of Virginia. Instead, the bus dropped me at 11th Street, and as I alighted, I suddenly found myself amid a parade of men and women dressed in 19th-century garb.
This was the conclusion of the working day for extras on Steven Spielberg' Lincoln film as they left the Capitol for the wardrobe trailers. They made for a ghostly procession in the evening's shadows. The sway of hoop skirts makes you gawk as if you’re seeing the past through a rift in the present. Anyway, it was the best free street show I’d seen in at least a week.
The Hatch Show Print exhibit, which comes to us by way of the Smithsonian, is well worth the time to visit, epecially if you work or live downtown and haven't availed yourself of the library's presentations.
Also opening this weeken was Candela Books and its gallery. Its creator, photographer Gordon Stettinius, snapped this image of me with Shelby Lee Adams. While not as famous as Daniel Day Lewis, Adams' almost-40-year photographic record of his native Appalachian Kentucky has produced four books. The latest, Salt & Truth is out via Candela. The place was packed for his artist's talk, and Adams quietly spoke with wit and insight. He's not a documentarian in the sense of photojournalism, but an artist, and the people and their lives are his subjects. He's photographed generations of the same family and gained their trust. The images are by turns difficult, poignant, amusing and powerful. And in a world where we have images blasted at us 24/7, that's saying something: The truth will out.