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Pictorialists? Me?

A short while back I went on a walk/photography tour of Seattle's Japan Town -- along Main Street and Jackson in the International District. The walk was sponsored and led by two photographers that are part of the "Through the Eyes of the Tiger" project that is now gearing up for a show highlighting the end of the Chinese Year of the Tiger.

Now I'm not big on group photo shoots -- I'm much more at home with wandering about with camera at the ready. And in fact I came back with only a few negatives that I have any interest in printing.

However this tour was about as much about the history of Japan Town as it was about photography. It started in the coffee shop of the 1910 Panama Hotel. The walls of a large lounge area were covered with wonderful photographs of the thriving 1920s and 1930s Japanese-American community. Alas, there were also reminders of the outrageous 1942 Executive Order that resulted in the imprisonment of thousands of US citizens of Japanese descent and decimated that thriving community.

What was missing was any mention of the Seattle Camera Club -- a group of dedicated, mostly Japanese-American amateurs -- the hub of which was the Empire Hotel only a block down the street. By the 1920s pictorial photography was past its peak on the east coast but that news had not arrived in Seattle or in Portland or San Francisco each of which had a group of amateur photographers doing pictorial work as good as anything Stieglitz showed in his gallery a decade or so earlier. They continued to do so -- winning medal after medal in international exhibitions until the late 1930s.

Now I've never been interested in doing soft-focused, heavily toned, dream-like photographs in the pictorial tradition but when I saw this little table in the coffee shop of the Panama Hotel I had to photograph it "in the manner of".

April 2023 Print of the Month -- Panama Hotel Coffee Shop -- in the manner of the pictorialists of the the 1920s Seattle Camera Club.


Last month I predicted that my darkroom would be my own again in early March and, in fact, it was and I have printed a couple of times. Printing for the book was completed and I saw the prototype of the finished book. Short description "wow!" (the following is an unpaid endorsement) I've also seen the loose-page proof of the trade press edition done at the shop in Vancouver BC that prints Lenswork magazine. It's pretty snazzy also.


I believe that I have all the prints made and matted for the Federal Way show in July (but I've thought that before and still have time to change my mind yet again). While checking on frames and acrylic for that show I discovered that I didn't have enough 11x14 sheets of acrylic. However, I had an excess of 14x18 sheets of acrylic. Hmmm. If I cut 7" off of a 14x18 I get an 11x14 and my inner cheapskate is happy to not buy more stuff to store after the show comes down. However I wound up with cutoff pieces 7x14 that were too good to throw away...... so begins the 7x14 project. I'm rounding up short sequences, dyptych, triptych that I can print small and mount to fit in 7x14 frame. So far I have three. It's kind of fun to have an idea fall in my lap like that.


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