Marin Community Foundation hosts a major exhibition from the late photographer husband wife team of Pirkle Jones & Ruth-Marion Baruch. The Marin Community Foundation’s spacious high-tech space is an impressive backdrop for this show. The massive retrofit building is a former an aircraft hanger (Hamilton Field Airforce Base).
Margot Duane and I produced design elements for the show (display devices, posters, banners etc.). This has expanded my exposure to (and appreciation of) the photography. But more than that, it serves as a window on a time and place I only originally experienced via odd media snippets from very far away.
The show focuses on the Oakland Black Panthers and the Haight-Ashbury of 1967-8. This following the Summer of Love and The Long Hot Summer. It features original and new painstakingly produced state of the art large scale archival silver prints, which are especially satisfying to behold. I can’t help think that a show of this size and scope, were it to be featured in somewhere such as London (say), it would be advertised as a world class offering and be the talk of the town. Marin County and small town Novato can count itself lucky to have a show of this calibre on its doorstep – and it is free.
“The idea to photograph the Panthers was originally Baruch’s. She proposed the project to Jack McGregor, Director of the de Young Museum in San Francisco, when he asked what she would like to do after her Haight-Ashbury 1967 show. She wanted to create an exhibition to present “the feeling of the people,” and McGregor agreed to show it. In the summer of 1968, Baruch attended a talk by Kathleen Cleaver, the Communications Secretary of the Black Panther Party. At the conclusion of the talk the two women met and made arrangements for Baruch to meet Eldridge Cleaver, the party’s Minister of Information. No photographs were taken at that first meeting, but Eldridge Cleaver invited Baruch to take pictures at a “Free Huey” rally at De Fremery Park in Oakland. Jones accompanied her to the rally, and the two collaborated on the project over the next several months.
On December 7, 1968, A Photographic Essay on the Black Panthers opened at the de Young Museum to record crowds. The show traveled to the Studio Museum in Harlem; Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire; and UC Santa Cruz.
Ruth-Marion Baruch (United States, born in Germany, 1922-1997) and Pirkle Jones (United States, 1917-2009) met as photography students and were married in 1949 at the Yosemite home of Ansel and Virginia Adams. Their work has been exhibited in museums around the country including the Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the International Museum of Photography in Rochester, New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution”.
Click images below to enlarge