July 14th - August 28th, 2009
In the Summer of 2009, Bert Gallery will exhibit Documenting a Moment, a Place, an Era - Photographs by O. Winston Link (Louisiana 1937-1941) and Carmel Vitullo (Rhode Island 1950 - 1960). This show examines two approaches to photography in the early twentieth century: Link's carefully orchestrated and dramatic documentation of pre-war Louisiana from 1937 through 1941 and Vitullo's more spontaneous “street photography” capturing the urban ethnicity of post-war Rhode Island in the 1950's and 60's. All photographs by O. Winston Link (1914 - 2001) and Carmel Vitullo (b. 1925) are in black and white and are presented for the first time together at Bert Gallery.
In 1940, the Museum of Modern Art in New York created a Photography Department thereby giving photography a legitimate standing in the fine arts community. By demonstrating their remarkable skills to create images, Link and Vitullo contributed significantly in the establishment of photography as a true form of art. O. Winston Link gained international acclaim for his 1950's images of the end of the Norfolk and Western Railroad era of steam engines but it is in his early work, in 1937 into the 1940's, documenting Louisiana that the viewer gains insight into the evolution of his personal style in the field of photography. Link was educated in civil engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn where he also served as the photo editor of the institute's newspaper. Shortly after graduation, he took a job as a photographer for Carl Byoir and Associates, a Manhattan-based public relations firm, which assigned to him the "Louisiana" account. His job was to use his photographic skills to help polish Louisiana's tarnished political image by giving a positive spin to the unique lifestyle, commerce, and industries available in pre-war Louisiana. Although some of these photographs were "on tour" with the Louisiana State Museum System, (October 2004 - January 2006) and then at the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, VA. (May 2008 - September 2008), at least twelve will be available to the public for the first time at the Bert Gallery. Some of these images can be seen in the Winter 2009 issue of Louisiana Cultural Vistas, which is available on-line.
Carmel Vitullo left her painting aspirations behind after two years at RISD (Rhode Island School of Design, the art school in Providence, RI) to pursue her photography ambitions at the New York Institute of Photography. Here she was attracted to the Cartier-Bressons of the emerging photography field who hit the urban streets seeking the critical moment that unfolded the universal human narrative. She achieved success early when Edward Steichen selected her "Grand Central Station" image for the 1955 Family of Man exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. On her way to catch a train at Grand Central Station, The quick-witted Vitullo seized the moment to grab her camera and photograph displaced refugees en route to a relocation center. Her photographic identity was born and she commenced a lifelong pursuit building a body of work that documented a spontaneous moment that spoke to a larger arena of place and era.
In this exhibit both photographers narrate the tales of their surrounding communities often times producing very similar results despite differing pathways. In over forty photographs of the two distinct American regions of the urban northeast and the rural south, the cultural overlaps and particular eccentricities are unveiled.
Bert Gallery is located in Corliss Landing at 540 South Water Street in Providence, RI. Gallery Hours are Tuesday - Friday 11 - 5, Saturdays 12 - 4 and closed on Sundays and Mondays. All exhibits are free and open to the public. O. Winston Link's Louisiana images are from the Louisiana Link project (Louisiana Link L.L.C,) and copyright of Winston Conway Link.