Mad In Pursuit Notebook

ansel adams

Now to Shift Back Into Collector's Apprentice Mode

Brendan6.30.2013. I've been in a drifting kind of interlude between intense travel and the July project of wrangling free-range collectibles into the neat corrals of databases and photographs. Today the new apprentice arrives -- Brendan the Voyager. In the medieval guild environment, that would imply that I, Susan, have now graduated from apprentice to journeyman in the craft of... what? Museum management? Antiquities preservation? Well, maybe because I'm Irish, I think that the craft we are practicing is storytelling. Start with the thing, end with the story -- that's the motto of this guild.

I think that photography will be first on our agenda. We have an assortment of modern art photography, a pile of Photo-Secession works, a bunch of Western photos, and a stack of Civil War pictures... all waiting for their story to be told.

The stories can be told from many perspectives: what is it we are looking at (the thing), who produced it, was the artist part of a larger movement, does the work have a symbolic meaning, how did it come to be in our collection, is it valuable in today's marketplace, are there broader socio-political implications as an artifact of culture becomes a trade item? What is surprising? How does it make you feel? What did you learn?

There will come a day when all the little treasures in our home will be dispersed to the four winds. I hope what endures will be their stories.

PHOTOS:

Ansel Adams doing his own work as the master craftsman, along with a typewritten note by someone telling the story. (From our archives)

Brendan the Voyager, getting ready for his work. (From his mom)