Monday, July 11, 2011

PRESS RELEASE: Black and White Photographs by Jonathan Brand at the Bennington Museum

A Vermont October Weekend in Black and White

"All things are photographable." - Garry Winogrand

In October 1967, photographer Jonathan Brand, his wife Monika, their daughters Ulrika and Jenny, and Monika's niece Linda Elowson, traveled from Manhattan's Upper West Side to Bennington, Vermont. This journey was fully documented in black and white images by Brand, as his friend and Middlebury classmate Carl McCutcheon drove the family car. Brand shot approximately 45-50 rolls of film in three days. Images from the series include gleaming new gas stations and rusty old cars, interiors of the Paradise Motel and a diner on West Main Street, portraits of family members and candid shots of people on the street.

He photographed tourists visiting the Bennington Battle Monument, and people viewing displays at an antique show, monks at the monastery at the Everett Mansion and policemen perched on stools at a luncheonette counter, and daughters Ulrika dancing in a yard and Jenny asleep in her stroller. Over one thousand images were taken, and in 2010, 174 were donated to the Bennington Museum. From July 14 through October 10, A Vermont October Weekend in Black-and-White exhibition that includes fourteen of these photographs will be on view in the John T. Harrison, Jr. Orientation Gallery of the Bennington Museum.

The purpose of the weekend in 1967 was to introduce Linda to Brand's Bennington relatives, tour the town, and enjoy the Vermont foliage at its peak. Linda had been living with the Brand family in New York, prior to the family moving to Scandinavia where Brand became the creative director at the international advertising agency J. Walter Thompson. Over the weekend, Brand juggled three Leica cameras and focused on everything about his old hometown. The group visited his three aunts (Eva Betts, Mary Faller, Sadie Leader) and their families, as well as many locations throughout town, both notable and common.

In the mid-1960s, Brand was obsessed with photography. He actively participated in workshops with photographers such as Richard Avedon, Bruce Davidson, David Vestal, and Garry Winogrand. During this time, Brand shot an average of 170 photographs a day, and absorbed the qualities of his mentors' work: Avedon's remarkable portraiture, Davidson's power of posture and gesture, Winogrand's off-balance edginess and street photography, and Vestal's focus on the many moods of a changing city. Yet Brand found his own clear voice, evidenced by the photographs of his family among Bennington's structures and natural landscapes, lively streetscapes, and diverse population.

After graduating Bennington High School in 1951, Brand bought his first camera in 1956 while on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Oslo in Norway. Since then his work has been exhibited in galleries from New York to Portland, Oregon, and his photographs are such notable collections as the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the International Center of Photography (New York), the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Portland Art Museum (Oregon), and the Portland Museum of Art (Maine).

This exhibit was curated by a Bennington Museum volunteer Dana Pilson, who has been working on cataloging the 174 photographs that Brand donated to the museum. “Selecting the fourteen images to be included in the show was quite the task,” she claimed. “They all had great depth, interest, and character. I am happy to have the exhibit installed for Jonathan Brand’s 60th class reunion for Bennington High School this July.”

Leader Blocks, Bennington, Vt., October 14, 1967
Bennington,Vt., October 14, 1967
Mrs. Austin and Jenny, Bennington, Vt., October 14, 1967

The Bennington Museum, located at 75 Main Street (Route 9), Bennington has the largest public collection of Grandma Moses paintings in the world as well as the largest collection of 19th century Bennington pottery. In the other seven galleries, the museum presents a 1924 Wasp Touring Car, one of only twenty produced, military artifacts, one of the earliest ‘stars and stripes’ in existence, fine and decorative arts, and more. On view through October 30 is “Grandma Moses and the ‘Primitive’ Tradition.” The museum is just a short ride from Manchester, Williamstown, and eastern New York, and open February through December every day but Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and students over 18. No admission is charged for younger students or to visit the museum shop and cafĂ©. Visit the museum’s website or call 802-447-1571 for more information.