HMA exhibit shows Tri-State's love of trains
HUNTINGTON -- The Huntington Museum of Art knows our fair city was founded and still chugs along strongly in its love of trains.
In fact, there are "Tracks" now laid through the heart of the museum.
Opened Nov. 3, the exhibit "Tracks: The Railroad in Photographs from the George Eastman House Collection," celebrates 160 years of photographic and railroad history through compelling works by such photographers as Bisson Frères, William Henry Jackson, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Lewis W. Hine, Aaron Siskind and others.
"Tracks" is celebrated at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, during the Fourth Tuesday Tour that features a guided tour of the exhibit and an appearance by author and local historian James E. Casto portraying Collis P. Huntington. A free reception follows.
Costumed as Collis P. Huntington, the famed rail tycoon who founded Huntington, Casto frequently appears at civic clubs, schools and other groups in a first-person program that offers a glimpse of Huntington's life and times. Casto was a reporter and editor at The Herald-Dispatch for more than 40 years before his retirement in 2004. He's the author of a number of books on local and regional history.
Free Tuesdays at the Huntington Museum of Art are sponsored by AT&T.
Organized and circulated by George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, N.Y., the exhibit was previously on tour, however, senior curator Jenine Culligan said that the museum was already booked when it was touring nationally just a few years ago.
Because of Huntington's continual strong ties to the railroad, Culligan said they worked to get the exhibit to Huntington, where it will be housed through Jan. 27, 2013.
Culligan said the museum, which has had in years past several rail-themed exhibits, was due for a great show such as this photographic survey of train history that is packed with dramatic places and people.
This survey of images runs from the 1850s up through 2006 of everything from scenery and train wrecks to workers and famous trains that have made a mark on history.
Culligan said each photographer's style and subject draw you in.
Photographers such as Aaron Siskind and Lewis W. Hine documented workers back in the 1930s and 1940s.
Siskind captured the life of the "Pullman Porters," while Hine's work, "Railroad Workers and Rail Photos," from 1925, was a step behind the sooted scenes of the train into the work of the steam boiler operators, the trackwalkers, the wheel grinders, the car waiters and the switch operators.
Many of the early train photos show trains taking people where they could have never gone before without great difficulty from 1865 snow galleries near Crested Peak in Nevada and the canyons of Grand River in Utah to Henri-Cartier-Bresson's work, "Caravan on Rails" from 1961, a Time Life picture from a Mongolian desert showing how the rail had replaced the camel caravan of Marco Polo's days.
"They wanted to show how much photography and trains had changed life," Culligan said of why the exhibit was organized by the Eastman House. "They were both invented about the same time, and they were not just in America but in lives in general around the world these two innovations kind of did bring people into a modern era. Trains made traveling so much easier, and photography allowed people to be able to capture real moments of life."
The exhibit shows how the two were married together in such promotional pieces as the Carleton Watkins' stereograph series of prints showing the grandeur of Pullman's Palace cars as well as a 1926 Kodak ad saying "Take a Brownie With You," showing a woman on a train with her camera on her lap.
The exhibit shows also how photographers have been there throughout rail history to capture the good, the bad and the ugly.
A C.R. Savage shot from 1869 shows the historic connecting of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads on Promontory Point in Utah on May 10.
While Paul Fusco captures the 1968 funeral train of Bobby Kennedy as it rolled past emotional crowds across America.
The exhibit also features a 51-photo book by Candace Plummer Gaudiani, whose 2006 work, "Forty Eight States," is a series of black and white colophon cards depicting trains, train yards and scenery throughout America.
"It's nice to work with the George Eastman House and in particularly this show because it will draw in photography buffs, train buffs and history buffs," Culligan said. "All will be interested in this show."
For more information on events at HMA, call 304-529-2701 or visit www.hmoa.org. HMA is fully accessible.
WHAT: "Tracks: The Railroad in Photographs from the George Eastman House Collection," celebrates 160 years of photographic and railroad history through compelling works by such photographers as Bisson Frères, William Henry Jackson, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Lewis W. Hine, Aaron Siskind and others.
WHERE: Huntington Museum of Art, 2033 McCoy Road, Huntington
WHEN: Up now through Jan. 27
THE TOUR: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27 during the Fourth Tuesday Tour that features a guided tour of the exhibit and an appearance by author and local historian James E. Casto portraying Collis P. Huntington. A free reception follows.
OTHER EXHIBITS: "Mr. Fitz: Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Huntington Museum of Art," American Impressionism," "Curator's Choice: Barrie Kaufman." CONTACT: Call 304-529-2701 or visit www.hmoa.org. HMA is fully accessible.