|Abbie, Gloria and Andre Kertesz in front of the gallery, c. 1983 (photo by Diane Covert)|
My solo show, the preparation for which is beginning to consume most of my waking hours, has been dubbed a “mid-career retrospective.” This means two things: I am at the mid point of my career, and I have enough stuff under my belt to warrant a long look back.
I do have many years to contemplate, especially considering how young I was when I first picked up a camera. No one is quite sure who gave me that first camera, a Rocket Brownie, but whoever it was gave me the gift that just kept on giving! It became attached to my 2-and-a-half-year-old right wrist, where it often dangled like a new piece of treasured jewelry. It was, of course, just the first of many cameras to follow.
It hasn’t been only the cameras and the pictures I took with them that have made this first part of my photographic journey so wonderful. It’s also been the people I’ve met along the way.
Fast forward to my mid-twenties, when I had the chutzpah to open a photography gallery in my new hometown of Kansas City. I did it because I loved being around photographs, photographic books, posters, postcards and photographers. For ten years, I was privileged to surround myself with stacks of prints by people like Cartier-Bresson, Levitt, Robert Adams, Siskind, Arbus, Evans, Cunningham, Doisneau, Kertesz, Meyerowitz, Leibovitz, Josephson, Pfahl, Uelsmann, Dater and Mann. On Saturdays, the gallery would fill up with photographers from the area – people like Loftis, Koch, Kilmer, Tarnowski, Gutowski, Covert, Hamilton and Sutton. Folks sat around looking at prints, books and magazines and chewed the fat about all things photography. Collectors would stop in: Hollander, Berkley, Meeker, Anderson, Nerman, Kaufman and Davis.
It was a special time in my life. I was blissfully wrapped up in being a new mom who adored her role as parent and a businesswoman who had no fear. I made biannual trips to New York for the auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. I brought in guest artists and lecturers, had book signings, organized competitions and sponsored photo workshops. It’s crazy when I look back on it. I didn’t really know enough to start the business, much less run it, but I dove in (ignorance is bliss??) and loved every minute of it.
Even though I had just received my MA in photography prior to opening the "Baker Gallery," I didn’t have time during those years to make my own pictures. The Hasselblad was shoved into a drawer at that point. It would be fifteen years before I reached in, grabbed it and started shooting again.
But what I learned during those heady days of running the local photography gallery was exciting, educational, invaluable and irreplaceable.
I wouldn’t trade that part of my career for anything.