Posts Tagged ‘Boston Public Library’

Just a couple of quick posts this week. I thought I would make a quick mention of a little discovery I made the other day. I was wandering around Newbury Street trying to figure out what my next blog post would be on, when I happened to notice an enormous sign hanging on the Boston Public Library. It was a standing exhibition of Jules Aarons photographs titled “Into the Street” featuring images of Boston’s neighborhoods from the 50s and 60s.

Thus began an arduous expedition to find the Wiggins Gallery on the third floor of the McKim building, which apparently is the older structure, not the ugly new one.  I’m the first to admit that I lack any sense of direction, so maybe the more orientationally-inclined among you would have no problem, but I would forewarn those with similar failings that while it technically is just up on the third floor following the main staircase on the right, some adventuring may be required.  In either case, due to its location in a library, its quiet and unfrequented, and having the photographs all to myself felt luxurious.

There aren’t many good examples of his work online, so I’ve posted the ones I could find but they weren’t my favorites, which means that I won’t be doing much of an analysis of any pieces.  It’s too bad though, because Jules Aarons does an incredible job of taking the medium of black and white documentary street photography and really making it his own.  He’s not trying to push or question the medium, he simply photographs what he sees around him and creates interesting and thought provoking compositions in the process.

The result is an exhibit that gives the viewer a glimpse into Boston’s past.  Aarons focuses much of his energy on the North End which reflects a much more “hoody” sense of Boston than feel on today’s streets.  He depicts distinct neighborhoods, with distinct social and ethnic groups, who generally stayed within the boundaries of where they lived.  This feel is most prevalent in the images of small mom and pop shops with the proud owner boldly posing out front.  Whether it is a Jewish kosher meat market or an Italian bakery, their open pride grants the nostalgic atmosphere of a forgotten time

In short, there’s value and beauty in the everyday of the past, and I would highly recommend a short visit to the quiet of the Wiggins Gallery to experience some of these photographs for yourself.

Links: http://www.bpl.org/research/print/aarons/index.htm


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