In the Frame 3: Lens on artists

K.B. Dixon continues his photographic portraiture series with images of Oregon arts and cultural leaders

Text and Photographs by K.B. Dixon

Photography essentially began as the art of portraiture. With the daguerreotype the portrait—previously painted and available only to an aristocratic few—became relatively inexpensive and available to everyone. John Szarkowski, the legendary director, curator, and poohbah-emeritus at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, noted in Looking at Photographs (his survey of the museum’s extensive collection) that “of the countless thousands of daguerreotypes that survive, not one in a hundred shows a building or a waterfall or a street scene.” What they show is “an endless parade of ancestors.”

The portraits here are part of an ongoing project titled In the Frame—a parade not of ancestors, but of the talented and dedicated people who have made significant contributions to the art, character, and culture of this city and state.

As with the previous portraits in this series, I have tried to produce a decent photograph—a photograph that acknowledges the medium’s allegiance to reality; that preserves for myself and others a unique and honest sense of the subject; that provides the viewer additional context that enriches, however infinitesimally, the viewer’s experience, understanding, and appreciation of the work these people have done and are doing.

Taken in situ—that is, in the subject’s natural habitat—these are not formal portraits but casual ones, portraits that rely on a mystical synthesis of time, light, form, and feeling. No assistants, studio lights, make-up artists, hair stylists, set designers, costumers, animal handlers, or Photoshop retouchers were involved.

 


 

Kim Stafford

Oregon’s Poet Laureate. Director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College.

 


 

Sherrie Wolf

Nationally known artist. Painter of complex, historically referenced still lifes.

 


 

LaRhonda Steele

Portland’s First Lady of the Blues.

 


 

Kerry Tymchuk

Executive Director of the Oregon Historical Society.

 


 

José Gonzalez

Executive Director and Co-Founder with his wife, Dañel Malan, of the Miracle Theatre Group aka Milagro.

 


 

Curtis Salgado

Musician, singer, and songwriter.

 


 

Carrie Strickland

Founding Principal Architect of Works Progress Architecture, designers of the Slate building, the Flatiron building, and many others.

 


 

Paul King and Walter Jaffe

Founders of White Bird, a nonprofit organization dedicated to excellence in dance.

 


 

John Helmer III

Third-generation owner of John Helmer Haberdasher aka “the hat store.” Established in 1921, it is a sanctuary for classic fashion.

 


 

Laura Hadden

Executive Producer of Live Wire, OPB’s radio variety show. Independently produced in Portland, it can be heard around the country.

 


 

Kevin Sampsell

Author, Editor, and Publisher of Future Tense Books.

 


 

Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson

Co-Founder with Tres Shannon of the infamous Voodoo Doughnuts.

 


 

Previously in the series:

  • IN THE FRAME: ELEVEN MEN. Portraits of leading figures ranging from the late Claymation master Will Vinton to the Hollywood Theatre’s Doug Whyte and jazz drummer Mel Brown. 
  • IN THE FRAME: ELEVEN WOMEN. Portraits of leading figures ranging from Oregon Symphony concertmaster Sarah Kwak to abstract painter Lucinda Parker and novelist Monica Drake. 

Join the discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.