vivian maier popsicle.jpeg

I have been studying photography since high school. We had a darkroom in our house. I have read books about it and gone to museums to look at photographs. I have reproductions of numerous famous pictures by Ansel Adams up in my house. I even have a few pictures I have taken on the walls. One of my favorite photographers is Vivian Maier.

Discovered from complete obscurity when her belongings were auctioned off from a storage unit in Chicago, her legacy of photographs is largely tied up in legal wranglings that will last for years. Still, some of her pictures (there are over 100,000) have made it to the light of day. While in New York, I decided to go to the one gallery that is authorized to sell pictures made from her original negatives. I have a very soft spot for her pictures of children.

We followed the map to a non descript location in upper Manhattan. The lobby that opened before was nearly empty and very plain. The skeptical doorman asked what we were doing. “Trying to find the Greenberg Gallery.”

His demeanor changed and he escorted us to the elevators and sent us up to the 14th floor. We walked around the corner and found the gallery. We were greeted by a friendly receptions who asked where we were from. We exchanged information and found out that she had graduated from SMU. Two exhibits covered the walls. One was huge photographs that were amazing in detail and color and structure. They are hard to describe landscapes that capture awe and beauty and wonder. The second was of Vivian Maier’s exquisite color work. We browsed through the exhibits consider each picture in turn. It was delightful.

Then I returned to the receptions. I explained that I was thinking about buying a Vivian Maier. I have been thinking about it for several years and I decided that it is on my bucket list. I asked her how the process works. She asked me about my interest. She collected about 10 photos and brought hem to a viewing room. It really was breathtaking. She gave me the pricing. The first photo of the ten run from each negative is the least expensive. Each one that sells increases in price. The one I was interested in was the 10th image and therefore the most expensive (of course). I told her I want to wait until new ones come out and try to get in on the front end instead of the back end of the line.

I asked for her card. Then we were saying our final goodbyes. I asked one final question, “How did you get to SMU?”

She told us she came to study dance, because SMU has one of the few programs that awards a degree with a concentration in dance. I asked the follow up, “Do you know Amanda Owen?” (Amanda is the daughter of James and Laura Owen and grew up in our church). She stopped and looked at us.

“Yes! She is in Latvia. When we had recitals she always had lots of people come because there were so many people in her family. “ Several other ideas bubbled into our conversation and we left having made a new friend through a mutual friend.

You just never know who you will meet, so treat people right.