Spread the Word

Site Feed

Powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe with ...

  • Add this blog to my Technorati Favorites!
  • Subscribe in Bloglines
  • Subscribe in NewsGator Online
  • Subscribe in Rojo
  • Add Random 

Bytes (WebLens Blog) to Newsburst from CNET News.com
  • Add to Google
  • Add to My AOL
  • Subscribe in FeedLounge
  • Add to netvibes

Translate This Post

Burn a Feed

Ping the World

Friday, January 20, 2006

Portrait of an Era Compelling Tribute to the Sixties

I saw the Linda McCartney Portrait of an Era photography exhibit yesterday, and was assailed by mixed emotions: stirred by vivid recollections of coming of age in the 60s; struck by the strength and power, intimacy and vulnerability MCartney captured on film; and saddened by the lengthening passage of time, not to mention growing awareness of my own mortality.

It was a shock to learn that baby Mary, one of the offspring of the union between Paul and Linda, is now almost 40. The photo of her as an infant nestled, sleeping, in her father's lap could have been taken yesterday. That's the "mirror shock" we boomers are increasingly said to be experiencing, and I underwent a healthy dose of it yesterday.

How much of this was because McCartney was a brilliant photographer, and how much was due to an uncomfortable confrontation with the very icons of my youth, I can't say. Opinions about McCartney vary, and not all are kind. To some, she was a gifted artist who captured the very essence of 60s rock and created a lasting visual record of the greatest musicians of our age.

Others dismiss her as "just a groupie" who was in the right place at the right time, lucky enough to meet some legendary performers and capture history in the making. Anyone could have taken those photos, these people will tell you.

I don't agree. The job of photography is not only to chronicle events and eras, but to challenge viewers to stop, think, and feel. McCartney's photographs create a unique sense of time and place and stir a bittersweet nostalgia. These are images so familiar they form a part of our collective psyche. John. Paul. George. Ringo. The Cream. Jim Morrison. Janis belting out a song. Jimi caught mid-guitar flail, arm extended dramatically, as if pointing to the watch tower. David Crosby dreamy and stoned. Grace Slick, tough as nails, bottle of bourbon nearby.

Most are dead now. Viewing McCartney's pictures, I was struck by an overwhelming sense of poignancy, of sadness at all the talent wasted, all the songs that would never be. That was the era of Haight-Ashbury. Of hippies and flower power and psychedelic posters. Of sex and drugs and rock and roll. McCartney sailed through it all, intact, until breast cancer felled her in 1998. Her legacy lives on in these wonderful images.

The exhibit is on at the Royal BC Museum until January 31st. Don't miss it.

No comments: