I traveled the Junk Jaunt trail this last weekend, following locations that sold everything from antiques to—no kidding—secondhand underwear. Yuck.
Luckily, I was only interested in photographs, and at a warehouse in Ansley, Nebraska, my students and I found a back room populated with chairs. The owner, Jim, is a retired illustrator with a penchant for three-dimensional storage art, it would seem.
I think he certainly had an eye for creating photo opportunities.
I learned long ago the Great Plains is populated by closet feminists, for here women are just as capable (and welcome) riders and ropers as men. Just watch a few breakaway calf roping performances, and you’ll understand that in the wide spaces before the Rocky Mountains, women need not pull any punches. Tough as nails and happy to prove it.
Girl and Mural
On seeing the mural, the girl’s coat integral in the dance, I couldn’t help but hear Emily Dickinson, and make pictures.
I cannot dance upon my Toes—
No Man instructed me—
But oftentimes, among my mind,
A Glee possesseth me,
That had I Ballet knowledge—
Would put itself abroad
In Pirouette to blanch a Troupe—
Or lay a Prima, mad,
And though I had no Gown of Gauze—
No Ringlet, to my Hair,
Nor hopped to Audiences—like Birds,
One Claw upon the Air,
Nor tossed my shape in Eider Balls,
Nor rolled on wheels of snow
Till I was out of sight, in sound,
The House encore me so—
Nor any know I know the Art
Nor any Placard boast me—
It’s full as Opera—
Moth and Window
Some people shoot pretty things like landscapes; I find Sylvia Plath and Ezra Pound in the nooks and crannies of the places I visit. And here was just such a poem, a Plath tucked away in the forgotten recesses of the desert air. Steiglitz called his small images “Equivalents,” for they were the visual equal of his emotional response to a scene. Indeed such a thing happened here for me, but as Andrew Southam has said of me, I live in a poet’s body.
Geoff Pope; Photo by Richard Olsenius
I’m fortunate to call Richard Olsenius a dear friend, for he is both a wonderful human being, and one of the most profoundly talented and accomplished storytellers in America. A former World Press Photo winner, National Geographic photographer and editor, filmmaker, composer and musician, he sees, hears and feels the world with open and empathetic eyes and ears. He is a minstrel of both image, word and note, producing myriad visions, endless poems and countless scores, but even the most accomplished essayist has an epic.
The tale of the Sheila Yeates is Richard’s, and it is riveting.