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Palace of the Governors Photo Archives

Photographic treasures from the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives; Harpist Calvin Arsenia explores the avant-garde; Art installations along Houston’s Buffalo Bayou connect visitors to a forgotten place.

AIRED: May 18, 2019 | 0:25:54
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Frederick Hammersley Foundation...and Viewers Like

>>THIS TIME, ON COLORES!

>>We are all caretakers of history on one level or another.

PHOTOGRAPHIC TREASURES FROM THE PALACE OF THE

GOVERNORS PHOTO ARCHIVES.

>>HARPIST CALVIN ARSENIA EXPLORES THE AVANTE GARDE.

>>ART INSTALLATIONS ALONG HOUSTON'S BUFFALO BAYOU

CONNECT VISITORS TO A FORGOTTEN PLACE.

IT'S ALL AHEAD ON COLORES!

>>A PHOTO IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS.

>>Lopez: Of all the photos you brought here today,

why is this image of Geronimo important?

>>Kosharek: Well, any image of Geronimo would be

important, because he was such a pivotal figure in

history of the West.

Ben Whittick was a very interesting guy.

He came from Illinois, came out here to work for

the railroads, documenting trains, you know,

railroads being built.

That was his entrée.

And, Geronimo, at that point in time, was like

the most famous man in the West, probably.

And Geronimo was not shy about having his

photograph taken.

In fact, he charged people...

>>Lopez: I did not know that...

>>Kosharek: He would charge them...

and there is a story about how, depending on how he

got along, or how he felt about people, he'd charge

them more, or less. (Laughter)

>>Lopez: The John Gaw Meem photographs

are some of the earliest photos taken here in New Mexico.

Can you tell us the story behind these photos?

>>Kosharek: Well, it's interesting.

They're not photographs by John Gaw Meem.

John Gaw Meem is, you know, the famous New

Mexico architect.

He actually bought the album in New York City in

the 1930s and brought it back to New Mexico, where

it sort of gained a lot of notoriety.

Because, it does represent some of the earliest

photography in New Mexico and documents The Long Walk...

>>Lopez: Tell us about the Redondo picture.

Can you kind of unpack what we see in this image?

>>Kosharek: Well, this particular one, there's no

annotation for any of these images.

These are glass plate negatives which have been

lost to time.

So, there's no documentation on who's

doing what.

All we know is that these are the Navajo captives

and Apache captives too at Bosque Redondo.

We know that the military was there.

Beyond that, there really isn't any context for

what's in the photographs other than we know what

happened at that point in time.

>>Lopez: And so, did the Navajo thieves image come

from this era?

>>Kosharek: These photographs were taken at

Bosque Redondo and if you do a little analysis of the album...

you look at...

you can see the backdrops, even props like blankets

over, you know, like a stool or something, they

show up repeatedly in these photographs.

So, at some point in time, probably an army

photographer showed up at Bosque Redondo with his

little traveling studio set up, put up a chair,

throws up a couple of blankets and then would

grab people and put them in the setup.

So, like this particular image that we're looking at here...

the same kind of thing.

You can see those blankets reoccur from time to time.

>>Lopez: Tell us a little bit about the image that

was taken on the plaza in Santa Fe.

>>Kosharek: That's a photograph of the west

side of the plaza and there's corn growing on the plaza.

Very pragmatic approach to, you know, urban

farming, I guess.

But those photographs, early photographs of Santa Fe...

kind of like time travel.

You look at this, you think, "That is so strange."

It doesn't look anything like that now.

>>Lopez: Tell us a little bit about the stereo image

that was taken in Santa Fe, from the west side.

>>Kosharek: We think it's taken from the top of

St. Michael's College.

I don't know if you know that building, today in

Santa Fe, but the top floor burned.

It used to be a three story building.

So, from up there, you could take a photograph

overlooking the city of Santa Fe.

And when you look at this, what do you see?

You see there's a lot of agriculture going on here.

All these plots.

Not like today where its second homes, condominiums...

this was, it was a practical environment.

I like bird's-eye views, because they sort of

transcend, kind of an idea of taking a standard

photograph, where you're standing on the ground.

So that perspective of looking out over the

rooftops is something that was really...

You know, the very first photograph ever taken,

looks out over the rooftops of France, of Paris.

<right> You know, so it's a same kind of mentality.

You look out your window, this is what you see.

>>Lopez: Can you tell us a little bit about Gardner's

photo and why this image is important to you?

>>Kosharek: Number one, you have probably one of

the most famous Civil War photographers, all of a

sudden transports himself from the battlefields of

Virginia and Pennsylvania to El Morro out by Zuni.

Now this is a wet plate process.

So, here he is...

you've got this, probably some sort of wagon, some

sort of device.

He has to pour his emulsion on glass.

Smooth it around.

Take the image.

Go back and develop it right away.

So, you're doing that.

If you've ever been over at El Morro, it can be

kind of a harsh environment.

So, you have to give these early pioneer

photographers a lot of credit, because the

process was difficult.

And, you know, it just...

it took a lot of patience.

So, the fact that Andrew Gardner ended up here and

takes this photograph of El Morro, I think is interesting.

We don't think of people in the 1870s, of being that fluid.

But it shows a lot of perseverance, this

determination to capture that image.

>>Lopez: So, speaking of early photographs, can you

tell us a little bit about this Hillers photograph?

>>Kosharek: If you look at this photograph, you

wonder where is this?

And then you realize, it's where we're at right now.

This is a view of the Sandias from Sandia Pueblo.

Hillers was an amazing photographer, very prolific.

We have hundreds of landscape photographs by Hillers.

And what would drive people like this, to go out?

Why would you go take this photograph?

First, you'd have to go to the Pueblo, get permission

to climb up on top of somebody's house and take

this photograph, in a medium that, you know,

people weren't familiar with.

So, it's... I find people

like Hillers really interesting.

Nussbaum, Parkerhurst were also photographers like that.

They made a point of going out and capturing these

everyday scenes which are just incredibly valuable

in terms of studying the history of New Mexico today.

>>Lopez: Tell me about the history of the

photographic method, especially that of the

daguerreotype.

>>Kosharek: Well, the daguerreotype was unveiled

in 1839 by Louis Daguerre in France.

And, he actually sold it to the French government

for a lifetime annuity.

Within a matter of like ten years, New York City

had 51 daguerreotype studios, in like 1850.

So, at that point in time that'd be the equivalent

of today, Albuquerque, if you could imagine

Albuquerque having 51 portrait studios, it'd be

the same kind of saturation.

Because, it was so new and it supplanted painting.

The clarity, the crispness, the tonal

scales in it are just phenomenal.

And this is a one of a kind.

You know, there's only one.

>>Lopez: Tell us a little bit more about these

plates and how they were cared for by the individual.

>>Kosharek: Well, because it is on a plate, it's a

burnished metal plate, it will corrode.

So, the way that you kept that from doing that is,

you put them in these little cases.

So, they're essentially hermetically sealed cases...

but had two purposes, one to preserve the photograph

and two to make them portable.

So, some of the smaller photographs like this

would be of a husband, of a wife, of children.

And they would carry them around.

Particularly during the Civil War, this was a

really big deal.

When Dad goes off to the war, you go down to the

daguerreotype studio and you get a photograph of

him with the wife cap.

You take a picture of the wife.

And the husband would take that with him.

So some of the cased images we have in the

photo archives...

>>Lopez: Like this one here, correct?

>>Kosharek: Yeah.

These small daguerreotypes would end up in somebody's

pocket during the battle.

>>Lopez: Now this is a daguerreotype, here?

>>Kosharek: This is a daguerreotype.

<Okay> You can usually tell daguerreotype because

there's almost always a little bit of corrosion

around the edges.

They're almost like Holograms.

You have to kind of look at them like this, in

light, and you get the light in just the right

direction, and it just sort of magically appears.

>>Lopez: How long do you think people have spent

creating the pinhole photography?

>>Kosharek: Well, pinhole photography goes back to

like 4000 BC or something...

like 400 BC...

the Chinese, there's a Chinese philosopher who

talked about capturing images in caves and things

like that.

So, pinhole photography is a really interesting process.

One of the most famous pinhole photographs is the

one taken by Julian Mack at the first atomic bomb

explosion at White Sands.

Now, this fellow Julian Mack was the guy that was

in charge of all sorts of spectrometers, kind of

light reading, so very highly technical

equipment, at the site.

So, when the bomb goes off, what does he do?

He pulls out a pinhole camera and takes, like,

the most untechnical photograph you could

imagine of the first atomic bomb explosion.

>>Lopez: This is the Palace of the Governors.

How was this image created?

>>Kosharek: Well, there's a little backstory to this.

The largest collection of pinhole photography lives

right here in New Mexico at the Palace of the

Governors photo archive...

>>Lopez: Right, and this is a pinhole photograph?

>>Kosharek: This is a pinhole photo.

So this photograph was taken when the "Poetics of

Light" pinhole exhibit was up.

And Heather from, Heather Oelklaus, from Colorado

has a box truck that's basically a portable

pinhole photo studio.

So we pulled this van.

It's probably a 16 foot van or box truck in front

of the Palace.

There was a tiny pinhole on the north side of it

and on the opposing wall were 84, 8 by 10 sheets of

photo paper that we put on the wall with little magnets.

And you can see those in there.

So, this is about a three hour exposure of the front

of the Palace of the Governors.

And because it's direct onto photo paper, you get

the negative result.

>>Lopez: Why are you so fascinated by the magic

that is photography?

>>Kosharek: I'm by nature a visual person.

I relate to things visually, more than I do

any other way.

So, for me to look at photographs like we were

talking about earlier, what would compel someone

to take a photograph?

Like, other than the backstory I just gave you,

why would somebody do this?

Why would they capture this?

For a number of reasons: A, it's the center of Santa Fe.

B, because of the Palace of the Governors.

C, because they're just showing off, you know.

So, that whole idea, why did Hillers go down and

take that photograph of Sandia Pueblo?

What was in it for him?

How many people in New Mexico at that point in

time wanted to buy a photograph of Sandia Pueblo?

So, while there may have been a commercial intent,

I think it's just the sheer joy of creating

photographs that makes a lot of people do what they do.

>>Lopez: How do these images help tell our history?

>>Kosharek: A picture is worth a thousand words.

So, if that's the case...

if you look at a typical photo archive, you've got

a few billion words worth of stuff lying around in

there, but photography provides a sort of a

really crucial role in society.

They, historically speaking, would have been

the storytellers who carry on tradition and documents

historical myths, whatever it would be.

Photography now does that, with the, everybody now is

photographer with a cell phone.

Everybody has, their data is full, because there's

photographs in there, so many photographs.

And some of them are quite good.

>>Lopez: Why is that so important, that these

photos exists for us today?

>>Kosharek: Here we are today sitting here talking about it.

It's like the old saying goes, if your name is

spoken a thousand years after you're dead, you still live.

So, it's the same thing with photography.

You look at a photograph like this daguerreotype here.

She's still alive because we can see her.

So, photography has that kind of element too.. its

magic <right> Quite simply, its magic.

>>Lopez: And poetic magic, right?

It's so poetic in the sense that it keeps

history alive.

>>Kosharek: Even in the pinhole photograph of the

Palace, it takes a while to figure out what's going

on there, you know.

So you look at it.

You stare at it and you spend some time with it.

And all of a sudden it kind of comes into focus,

so to speak.

>>Lopez: And so these images kind of make you

think, therefore connect you to those individuals

or those places.

>>Kosharek: It's an artifact, you know.

It's photographs, are artifacts...

they're artifacts of another place and time, or

another person, somebody who's long gone.

We are all caretakers of history at one level or another.

Everybody plays a role in creating our history.

So, family photographs, even though you think that

they're just family photographs, would have a

historical importance, if they were in an archive

where they could be preserved and created

access for people.

>>DEFYING MUSICAL EXPECTATIONS.

>>The summer of 2016 saw a unique birthday

celebration for a unique landmark.

And in fitting fashion, the party was just as unorthodox.

Arts of all kinds were put on display for the huge

crowds that filtered in throughout the day.

From dance to opera, culinary to an array of music.

Ranging from familiar KC faces to someone who has

been quietly shaking up the scene with a very new take.

At 26, multi-instrumentalist

Calvin Arsenia isn't merely looking to sound

good; that would be too simple.

No, he's looking to change the atmosphere by creating

moments of transcendence.

>>I have a very high expectation for music and

live music, in particular.

To influence and transform a space and an audience

and the way that they feel that room in that time, to

create these moments where people leave inspired and

refreshed and, you know, there's a little bit of pressure.

I love playing with tension in music.

But that pressure turns into release, you know.

It's like a massage where there's, you know, you're

kneading the knots through distant chords and then

all of a sudden, you go into this very serene and,

you know, major chords.

And because of that, it's really hard for me to go

into a room and have already determined what

songs I want to play or how I'm going to play them

because I really want to meet an audience where

they are and invite them into my space, and then we

go somewhere together.

>>Calvin began his relationship with the harp in 2010.

After sensing the possibilities via Florence

+ the Machine...

Bjork...

And Joanna Newsom...

>>And I've always been a little bit more ambitious

than I ought to be, and so I went on a hunt around

Kansas City to look for a harpist that would play

with me.

What I found was a whole bunch of people who were

very classically trained and were beautiful people,

but to play, you know, original compositions, to

do the rehearsal time, to move the harp, like, it

was gonna be quite a task to ask of anybody.

So I found a harp studio that let me rent a harp,

and I couldn't afford to rent the harp and to take

lessons, so I just took the harp, and I learned

from YouTube for about a year, and it was horrible.

>>Fortunately...

>>It's really hard to make actually, like, bad sounds

on the harp.

And so I would take it, you know, everywhere.

>>But everywhere doesn't include international travel.

Calvin joined a mission trip to Edinburgh,

Scotland in 2014, and man and harp would have to part.

But that didn't last for long.

>>I made it about one or two weeks before I was,

like, craving a harp, and I was like, "I have to play.

I have to--have to play." And so I rented another

one and I took it to every, kind of, jam

session or open mic that I could.

And I remember, sometimes I would be playing if

there was open mics, and my hands would just

tremble and tremor.

And my voice-- I was just so nervous, and...

[chuckles] because with the guitar and the piano,

like, I've been confident on those for a long time

before I was actually playing and the

expectation, you know, for me to be able to deliver

what I wanted to do on an instrument, like, I had

that expectation of myself, and I had made

that expectation for my audience.

And so, yeah, I would just shake.

And then, you know, three years later, here I am.

And it's what I do for a living, and it's kinda cool.

>>A lot of times, I'm able to be the first harpist

that people have seen, and I feel really-- it's

really cool to me.

It's also kinda scary because I don't play

conventionally, so it's cool because I get-- I

love to take the harp in places that it's never

been before.

But sometimes I do get booked and asked to play,

like, banjo or guitars something, and sometimes I

get confused.

And I show up at a venue, like, with a harp and

nothing else, and they're like, "Wait, we thought

you were gonna play guitar." I'm like, "But I

brought a harp." (laughing)

>>Besides having several albums under his belt and a

packed performance schedule, Calvin also

makes time for a handful of exceptional students.

- Yeah, I'm getting ready to go in to teach one of

my students.

His name is Reno.

And he plays piano.

And Reno plays by ear really, really well.

Loves to improvise, but I just try to give him some

more vocabulary in what he's doing.

And some different kinds of ways to approach melody

and chords and as well as technique.

I think my job is to help people fall in love with

the process of learning and learning how to be

self-sufficient.

And kind of unveiling these different kinds of

concepts and nuances rather than trying to

teach them how to memorize a piece.

It's more important to me that they're able to

express their own ideas and to be able to hear and

communicate and understand the ideas that other

people make so that they can communicate their own stories.

And I'm really excited to see where my students go

in the years to come.

>>It's a journey that holds much promise for

both student and teacher.

As Calvin continues to push the bounds, taking

the harp where it's never gone before.

And taking us along for the ride.

>>I love getting to do what I love for a living.

And then expose people to the idea that anything's

possible if you're willing to get messy with it and

you might embarrass yourself, but you just

gotta pick yourself up and keep going for it.

You write--you are the only one who gets to write

the story that you want to tell.

>>CONNECTING COMMUNITIES WITH ART.

>>Anne Olson: Buffalo Bayou Park is really an

unbelievable green space.

It consists of hike and bike trails.

We have two visitor's centers.

We have public art.

And now we're turning our sights east of downtown.

>>Cheryl Beckett: This project is called

"Encounter: Meeting Points in the Buffalo Bayou."

And it's essentially six site installations.

Each student team had to research the history of

that site and try to develop an installation

that would create an engagement that was very

specific to that location >>Nadia Tran: The

Encounter project is a collaboration between the

University of Houston graphic design program and

the creative writing program.

First we had to think of what we could create that

could live in the environment that would

engage people.

Allen's Landing is referred to as the

original port of Houston.

So we have six different graphic cubes.

So on these cubes is text heavy.

But it gives visitor an opportunity to reflect, to

investigate these site and understand its

significance within the community.

>>Alwyn Brownewell: We wanted to highlight the

narratives that Buffalo Bayou has.

It's community, its ecology and its history.

The gravel silos site they stored concrete, shells,

gravel and sand.

>>Beckett: The student team there actually uh

used or reused oil barrels and they recreated to some

extent some silos.

But there's also again public engagement.

At Japhet Creek it had some features there were

already there.

So the students used that shipping container to put

graphics and kind of enliven that space, but

they also added tables for that idea of conversation.

And people got to write what they thought should

happen as they worked on the future plans on these

pieces of neon construction tape and

these were tied to the trestle.

There's also the Yolanda Black Navarro Buffalo Bend Park.

They put a series of frames throughout the park

and asked a number of questions, so that when

the visitor came to the site, they could sort of

look through this and maybe notice a detail or

maybe a moment or experience that they might

not have thought about before.

The North York boat launch - they put 'crossing

horizons' and 'setting courses.' So, it kind of

really has you looking at that bayou and thinking

about its future opportunities.

One of the really interesting parts about

this project is that it moves beyond what we

typically think about as graphic design...

but is one of those really kind of growing areas in

design which is place making and experiential

graphic design.

They met with the public to try to get some ideas

going on.

The students interviewed...

All in an effort to really develop something that

made sense and could engage the public in an

interesting way.

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