EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 1, 2010

Exhibit features work of Walker Evans and other photographers specializing in capturing our culture's condition

Exhibit features work of Walker Evans and other photographers specializing in capturing our culture's condition


NORTH ANDOVER — His photos hang in some of the world's most celebrated venues, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

His images evoke the poverty and destitution of The Great Depression.

And now, the celebrated work of Walker Evans finds its way to the Robert Lehman Art Center at Brooks School in the exhibit, "On the Road: A Legacy of Walker Evans." The exhibition is open to the public April 2 through June 12.

In addition to 24 Evans photographs from the collection of the Robert Lehman Art Center, the exhibit will feature another 40 photographs from 22 well-known artists who have been equally enthralled with life found along American's back roads and major highways.

"The example of Walker Evans endures because of his belief in the power of straight photography and the objective stance. In spite of their apparent detachment, these artists are essentially storytellers," curator Belinda Rathbone writes in the exhibit's accompanying catalogue.

"American photographers have matched the expressions of novelists, filmmakers and songwriters in the classic American subject of the road trip as a voyage of discovery," she said.

Lehman Center Director Marie Costello approached Rathbone, whose brother, niece and nephew all are Brooks alums, about curating such an exhibit several years ago. Costello had read Rathbone's, "Walker Evans: A Biography" (Houghton Mifflin, 1995).

The collaboration resulted in an engrossing exhibition of 21st century photographers exposing numerous aspects of our society through the American landscape.

Springtime curriculum within Brooks' English and History departments will tie into the exhibit, as well as inspire countless photography students on and off campus. The exhibit crisscrosses this country, exposing much of America's true identity found on the road, instead of online.

"In the years to come, will the information highway take the place of the real highway? Will the instinct to explore and discover the material culture, together with the element of chance encounters, diminish with the spread of virtual reality?" Rathbone questioned. "With this exhibition we invite a new generation to assess the interest and durability of the concept 'On the Road' for themselves."

Rathbone will discuss the exhibit tomorrow from 6:30 to 7 p.m. An opening reception will directly follow the talk from 7 to 8 p.m. The special events, along with the exhibit itself, are free and open to the public.

About Walker Evans (1903-1975)

Born into middle-class family in St. Louis, Mo.

Graduated Phillips Academy in Andover.

Dropped out of Williams College; resided in Paris for a year.

Back in the states, adopted artistic circle of friends in New York City, including John Cheever and Lincoln Kirstein.

Photography career began in late 1920s.

Assignment in early 1930s landed him in Cuba, where he became briefly acquainted with ex-pat Ernest Hemingway.

In 1935, worked on a Resettlement Administration campaign in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, which was followed by other RA and Farm Security Administration projects through 1938, primarily in the South.

In 1936, with writer James Agee documented life during the Great Depression while staying with three white tenant families in Alabama.

Resulting 1941 book, "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men," offered a heartbreaking glimpse of rural poverty.

Briefly served as staff writer for Time magazine in 1945, before long stint as an editor at Fortune magazine.

In 1965, began teaching photography at Yale University School of Art.

Died in his Old Lyme, Conn., home a decade later.

Exhibit Photographers

Walker Evans

Robert Adams

Jeff Brouws

Wendy Burton

William Christenberry

Jim Dow

William Eggleston

Terry Evans

Robert Frank

Lee Friedlander

Frank Gohlke

Jan Groover

Danny Lyon

Joel Meyerowitz

Catherine Opie

Edward Ruscha

Erik Shubert

Stephen Shore

Alec Soth

Joel Sternfeld

Larry Sultan

George Tice

Henry Wessel

If You Go

What: Photography exhibit, "On the Road: A Legacy of Walker Evans."

Where: Robert Lehman Art Center at Brooks School, 1160 Great Pond Road, North Andover.

When: April 2 through June 12. Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. closed during school vacations.

Special Programming: Curator lecture, 6:30 to 7 p.m., April 2, followed by opening reception, 7 to 8 p.m.

How: Free. Gallery open to the public and handicapped accessible. Go to www.lehmanartcenter.com, or contact Gallery Director Marie Costello at 978-725-6232 or mcostello@brooksschool.org.