Hero

Posted in Uncategorized on 2011/01/16 by jimhairphotos


It is amazing to think that there are people quietly living down the street, in our town, who literally “saved the world.”

Willie: Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur 2184D50v110115

from the letter sent to Willie by the French Consul General :

“Dear Mr. Southerland,

It is a great honor and privilege to present you with the Knight of the Legion of Honor medal. Through this award, the French government pays tribute to the soldiers who did so much for France and Western Europe. More than 65 years ago, you gave your youth to France and the French people. Many of your fellow soldiers did not return, but they remain in our hearts.

Thanks to the courage of these soldiers, to our American Friends and Allies, France has been living in peace for the past 6 decades. They saved us and we will never forget. I want you to know that for us, the French People, they are heroes. Gratitude and remembrance are forever in our souls….

To show our eternal gratitude, the government of the French Republic has decided to award you the Legion of Honor. Created by Napoleon, it is the highest honor that France can bestow upon those who have achieved remarkable deeds for France.”

The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour (French: Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur) is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the First Republic, on 19 May 1802. The Order is the highest decoration in France.

The order’s motto is Honneur et Patrie (“Honour and Fatherland”), and its seat is the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur on the left bank of the River Seine in Paris

In the French Revolution all French orders of chivalry were abolished. It was the wish of Napoleon Bonaparte, the First Consul and de facto sole ruler, to create a reward to commend civilians and soldiers and from this wish was instituted a Légion d’Honneur, a body of men that was not an order of chivalry, for Napoleon did know that France did not want a new nobility system, but a recognition of merit. The Légion used however the organisation of old French Orders of Chivalry, and so Willie has been awarded the medal rank of “Chevalier” (Knight).

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Arnold Genthe

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on 2010/11/16 by jimhairphotos

Vicki and I had never been to Fort Wayne, so one Sunday we drove up to explore. Vicki had a list of Yarn Shops, and I had seen that there were a few bookstores listed online. One of my favorite activities is exploring a newly discovered, old book shop. I have a general list of books that I would like to find, and there are some that I have heard of and read portions that have been quoted, but because of their age, never expect to find. One book on this list is “As I Remember” by the German-American photographer Arnold Genthe. It was withdrawn from the Fort Wayne and Allen County Library, and inside it is noted “Jan 11 1941 $2.00”. I paid a little more than that for it, and am amazed to have found a copy.

Published in 1936, this is Genthe’s memories of coming to America as the tutor for a San Francisco banker’s daughter, his establishment of a photo studio and practice, and the amazing people he met as he moved his studio to New York, as well as his travels to Mexico, Guatemala, Japan and Greece.

I have always admired his photographs of San Francisco’s Chinatown, and enjoyed reading about his experiences wandering through the streets, making photographs of strangers, and then keeping appointments to make portraits of people who were at the top of society and the arts. His subjects included the writers Frank Norris, Jack London and Sinclair Lewis, the dancers Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, Sarah Bernhardt, Arturo Toscanini, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., Mary Pickford, Edna St. Vincent Millay, John Barrymore and Greta Garbo.

Genthe had a studio in San Francisco in 1906, and the morning after hearing Enrico Caruso perform Carmen, he was awakened by the earthquake. Having experienced a few quakes in The City, I am not surprised at his descriptions of people wandering outside to look at the damage, meeting for breakfast, and then watching calmly as the fires progressed. He only decided to get a camera mid-day, and when he returned to his building, the door was guarded by a soldier who was under orders to shoot anyone who tried to return to their homes. In an effort to stop the fires, the army was dynamiting blocks ahead of the fires, and Genthe was forced to stand back and watch as his building, his studio, and all his possessions were blown to bits, his “thousands of (glass plate) negatives which I had made during that time were now but chunks of molten, iridescent glass, fused together in fantastic forms. Everything I possessed was destroyed….”

Luckily his Chinatown negatives had been moved to a friend’s vault as he had been warned: “You ought to not keep all these plates and films here. Some day the whole city will burn up.”

Diane and Mike, March 2009

Posted in Uncategorized on 2010/11/05 by jimhairphotos


I would often stop and talk to Mike and Diane as they sat near Joy Ann’s Bakery for a cup of coffee and a cigarette. I had seen them together for at least a year before I approached them. Mike’s speech is slurred, so my side of the conversation is mostly nodding and responding to what I think he said. Diane spoke very softly and so there was very little give and take in our few words.

At some point Mike said they had been together for 20 years, and I made a few photographs of them, and gave them copies the week after. I was able to understand that Diane really liked them, except that she would have preferred Mike to be clean-shaven, and he laughed and said there was no way he would shave his beard. Soon after, Diane stopped coming to Main Street. It has been at least a year now, and Mike doesn’t seem to know where she is.

One of the photographs of them I really liked, and submitted it to the annual open juried exhibition at the Richmond Art Museum, and it was accepted. I told Mike, and he thought that was great, and I thought Diane might enjoy knowing that she is in the Art Museum too, so thought I would look for her.

I started at a nursing home near Downtown, and they referred me to another care center who basically introduced me to reality: if Diane were staying with them, they were prohibited from telling me. If they knew where Diane was, they were also prohibited from telling me. I don’t know Diane’s last name, I am not related to her, and Mike isn’t either, officially, and the staff asked if I knew her family? I don’t, and then thought what if Diane doesn’t have family, and because of privacy issues, whoever is taking care of her is prohibited from telling anyone?

If we do not have a family, do we just vanish?

Images and the Thread of Memory

Posted in Uncategorized on 2010/11/01 by jimhairphotos

It is amazing to see a photograph of my grandmother, the woman who raised me, who I had only known as a woman in her late fifties, as a girl of eight, with her parents and brothers. The expression on her face at eight was one I knew on the woman of 60, and I wonder if the thoughts she had looking into my camera as I made a portrait of her, were the same as the thoughts this little girl has.

Recently I was asked by a cousin for the date my grandmother came over to America from Wales, and so I pulled this photograph out of the box where my family history sleeps. Seeing it again I am reminded that this is why I became a photographer, and why I value the object that a printed photograph is. I can get lost in the image and the object on so many levels.

I remember these people, and through the image can see outwardly what they must have carried with them through their lives. The photograph is a document of a memory they held, having experienced the voyage firsthand, and seeing the image, I am given a little glimpse into that journey. I wonder who made the photograph and would guess that my great-grandfather handed his camera to a stranger to push the button. It is his writing beneath the image, so the negative must have been his, and looking at the reverse, it was never sent, but my grandmother wrote everyone’s name. I wonder if he printed a number of these and sent them back to the family who stayed in Wales to let them know they had made it to America, and what they looked like aboard the Cedric. I am grateful that my grandmother wrote her brother’s names on the card as I knew they were Mark and Doug, but seeing the card realize that Mark was named after his father. My grandmother wrote in her own style, and at some point I will have it analyzed to see what it tells of her character, and how much of it I remember, and what I might not have recognized. As I type this note on a keyboard I am aware that the words only have the meaning that they are given in a general sense, and the emotion that is carried by the handwritten line is missing. For this also I am grateful that my grandmother used a pen.

One hundred years after this photograph was made, I hold it in my hand and am amazed to have a postcard sent from so long a distance, in space as well as time.

Charlie’s book

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on 2010/10/18 by jimhairphotos

Charlie Matthews Memoir as told to Tom Mullen and Lincoln Blake
by Charles Matthews, Tom Mullen, and Lincoln Blake
500 copies printed in Richmond, Indiana by Augustin Printers, October 2010
$19.99 (includes Indiana State Sales Tax)
for Mail Orders please include $ 4.95 shipping ($24.94 total cost including shipping)
218 pages of text
32 pages of photographs in color and black and white
71 minute CD of recorded selections from Charlie’s favorite performances and four original written works.

Requests for copies may be directed to jim@richmondartworks.com

Checks payable to: Nancy R. Faus

Charlie
Just in time for his 60th Earlham College reunion, Charlie Matthews has published his memoir. In discussions with Tom Mullen and Lincoln Blake the story of a living Richmond treasure is told in “Charlie” “The Story of How Charles, the Kid from Spiceland, Indiana, Overcame Early Adversities to Become a Successful, Beloved Teacher, Actor, Friend, and ‘Charlie’.”

Printed in Richmond by Augustin Printers, the 218 page text is filled with anecdotes that range from Charlie’s early years growing up in Spiceland with his sister Maxine, to his Army service in World War Two and his return to Richmond after the war to attend Earlham College and participate in the birth of Richmond’s Civic Theatre. Charlie discusses his experience as an actor in New York and his return to Richmond to become a teacher at Richmond High School and the people he has worked with and known over the years.

Included in the book are two appendices; the first a transcription of some intimate and moving conversations between Charlie and Tom Mullen who initiated this project. The second is a collection of letters from friends who describe their relationship with Charlie.

There are 32 pages of color and black and white photographs that span Charlie’s childhood, his years at Earlham, memorable roles at Civic Theatre, and photographs made in the last year that show Charlie, at 87 years young, has a very flexible interpretation of the term “retirement”.

Also included with the book is a 71 minute CD of recordings made by Jim Hair of Richmond Art Works of Charlie discussing his work, as well as selections from a number of his favorite roles, three poems and a tribute written for his friend Art Postle.

Three public readings have been scheduled to hear Charlie read from his work:

Saturday, November 6 th • 11 am to 1 pm
Morrisson-Reeves Library Bard Room
80 North 6th Street
Richmond, IN
765-966-8291

Sunday, November 14 th • 2 pm to 4 pm
Richmond Civic Theatre Foyer (limited seating)
1003 E. Main Street
Richmond, IN
765-962-1816

Wednesday, November 17th • 4 pm to 5 pm
The Old Book Shop (limited seating)
534 E. Main Street
Richmond, IN
765-935-5237

If you are planning to attend any of the readings, please be aware that this event is contingent upon Charlie’s health.

If you have questions regarding these events or availability of the book, please send a note to jim@richmondartworks.com

Potluck on the Farm

Posted in Uncategorized on 2010/10/18 by jimhairphotos

Vicki and I had a great time at the 100 mile radius dinner at the Baxter’s Farm last night. It wasn’t the great food that I was most excited by though, as I have been hoping to find someone with a trampoline to make some photographs of friends flying. Mark was one of last nights jumpers.

Birthday Presents

Posted in Uncategorized on 2010/10/02 by jimhairphotos

Yesterday turned out nothing like I had planned, but it was full of great surprises.
I’m looking forward to another day full of unexpected gifts starting with a beautiful sunrise…