An Education (on the Vineyard)

There is another time of year, when the Vineyard is a fabulous place to be.  Summer is a given, Fall a close second...but Winter (for those in the know) is that special time of year for reflection, creation and learning.

The innovative community of Martha's Vineyard resembles a miniature-version of NYC and Los Angeles condensed into an 87-square-mile package.  With artists, actors, authors, chefs, screenwriters, photographers, fashion designers, musicians and dancers...the Vineyard is a mecca of creativity contained in a small package.   Opportunity abounds when these mentors offer to give back to the community, by teaching.

Always wanting to enhance the possibilities of furthering my education, I signed up for an ACE MV class taught by child-literature extraordinaire, Kate Feiffer.  She has eight adventures published with Simon & Schuster...several done in conjunction with her father (award-winning cartoonist/illustrator/author/playwright/screenwriter), Jules Feiffer.  Kate's class, "Writing for Children" is such a joy to be a part amusing to tap into the fantastical minds of children.  Creative thoughts can wander into any imaginable scenario...children appreciate the journey.  They are wishers and dreamers...and nothing is impossible. 

I picked up a copy of her picture book Double Pink, at Bunch of Grapes before class...and was unable to sneak a peek until my daughter finished reading (could not pry it from her hands!).  Absolutely prepaliscious!  I think my blogger friends at Monograms & Manicures, the Preppy Princess, Preppy Sue, and All Things Southern and Preppy would appreciate this book for themselves (much less require a second copy for their children/nieces/girlfriends).  Valentines Day thought, for all lovers of pink. 

Continuing on - education...I attended an Alfred Eisenstaedt presentation, at the Vineyard Haven Library, hosted by Chris Morse of the Granary Gallery.  In my ten-year career of shooting film, I had always looked to and admired the compositions, contrast and visual story-telling that Eisenstaedt ("Eisie"), Erwitt, Bresson, Horst, Steichen, Beaton, and Picayo presented in their work.
"Eisie" had a love of the Vineyard, and returned every August to his "happy place"- the Menemsha Inn cottage, called Pilot House.   The library presentation room was full of personal anecdotes encountered with Eisie...including photographer/author William Marks, who spent over ten years documenting Eisenstaedt's life and private photo sessions with the Clintons.  

The photo Chris is holding above, of Marilyn, was indeed meant to be photographed in color.  The photo session began as an "oops" when Eisenstaedt accidentally shot the entire session in black/white film...then made up a story so that he could shoot one more roll (in color, as was requested for his job assignment).  She never knew of the blunder.

We viewed an extensive collection, each with personal explanation.  As a teenager, Chris had worked for the Granary (and is now the proud owner along with his wife, Sheila), as a bit of a runner.  Part of his duties were to drive cases of Eisenstaedt's books over to his Pilot House cottage, for him to sign.  "Eisie used to time himself signing the books, competing against himself to be faster and faster, with his watch perched on the ledge of the porch railing.  Sometimes he would miss lunch, if he was doing well", Chris remarked.  
Alfred Eisenstaedt's photograph "V-J Day in Times Square" is probably what he is most known for.  Many have mistakenly believed this to be the cover photo on an issue of LIFE (which it was not), but he has photographed more LIFE covers than any other photographer to date; 86 of them.  His preferred mode of shooting was with his trusty Leica.  His favorite subject...Sophia Loren.
The 1933 photo (above) of Joseph Goebbels (Nazi propaganda minister, glaring at him after discovering he was Jewish), was later remarked on by Eisestaedt as "the eyes of hate".  Moving to the United States in the 1930's, was indeed the best decision of his "life".
Above, a favorite Eisenstaedt photo of Chris Morse, "Repairing the hull of the Graf Zeppelin in Flight" 1934.  He was told that Eisie had to plead with Zeppelin crew to allow him to peek out a porthole on top, and photograph crew members attempting to repair the tear (bottom right) while in flight...yes, thousands of feet in the air.

Below, a few of my own favorites (click to enlarge any photo):
Children at a Puppet Theater, Paris, 1963:

Waiters Watching Sonya Henie Skate, San Moritz, 1932:
Swan Lake Rehearsals (also a favorite of Chelsea Clinton):
Photo below, the man himself on the Brooklyn Bridge shot by Annie Leibovitz:
Thank you, Chris Morse, for such an outstanding and personal presentation.  Imagine my surprise and delight, when I left the presentation for an estate sale in West Tisbury, only to find (3) signed editions of his photography books!  The day, for me, was meant to be.

Photos courtesy: Granary Gallery/LIFE, and personal iPhone pics.

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