One of the proudest associations I have enjoyed in my career is my long time affiliation with the Monroe Gallery in Santa Fe. The gallery represents historically important photojournalism, and Sid and Michelle Monroe are fierce advocates of the importance of photojournalism, and equally fierce defenders of the artists who create the work they show on their walls. They are also amongst the most knowledgeable people in this industry, steeped in the history, legends and lore of this art and craft.
On Friday, July 1, they launch an important exhibit. “Imagine a World Without Photojournalism,” which is a date that coincides with the gallery’s 20th anniversary in Santa Fe. Their walls will simply vibrate with famous, important, provocative, challenging, memorable, sad and glorious slices of our life and times. The images enrich, enrage, dismay, and soothe the soul. Your eyes and heart will never be the same after seeing this collection of work.
Sid and Michelle are dear friends, and they know me well by now. Whenever I sell an image through the gallery, I never ask for the money. I leave it with them, building a bank account over time, at the gallery. When I have enough stashed to afford a print, I choose one. Such as CPO Jackson, above, in the banner photo. I have it on my wall, and see it every day.
Made by the formidable LIFE staffer Ed Clark, it depicts Navy CPO Graham Jackson as he plays “Goin’ Home” on the accordion while President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s body is carried from The Warm Springs Foundation, where he died suddenly of a stroke on April 12, 1945. According to accounts, he had a personal relationship with FDR, thus his grief, so poignantly manifest in this frame, is both about the loss of a leader, and a friend.
The picture is just as searing, relevant and heart wrenching today as it was the day Mr. Jackson was playing that accordion, and Ed Clark clicked a shutter button. Without the hearts and minds of photojournalists, a picture like this doesn’t exist. Without the photographers who are risking their lives in Ukraine, we don’t know and thus can’t feel the weight and horror of the madness raging there.
Photojournalists are often not welcome, as we show, in unflinching fashion, things many don’t want to see or recognize. But visual storytelling is more necessary than ever. As our country devolves into vengeful tribalism, and skepticism flourishes, nourished by unalloyed ignorance, I look at CPO Jackson’s face from long ago. There is truth in the tears.