Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Milton Rogovin just had his 100th birthday.

Milton Rogovin was born in New York city and educated at Columbia. He has lived in Buffalo all his adult life. He is a social activist and documentary photographer who became a full time photographer when his optometry practice was devastated by the McCarthy era witch hunt. His book "The Forgotten Ones" is one that I come back to again and again. For it he photographed the people of the working-class neighborhood in southeast Buffalo near where he lived. Then he photographed them again, as many as he could find, 20 years later. Then he photographed them again, as many as he could find, later yet (he said that he wanted to wait 20 more years but wasn't sure he would live long enough -- turns out he did). He is also a grade-A human being who has deep family ties and community connections.
His archive of something like 30,000 negatives is in the library of congress. That's a lot of rolls of 120 film pulled through his Rolleiflex.
There is a major show of his work at the Burchfield-Penny art center in Buffalo, posters of his work in the Buffalo subway stations, a smaller show of his work at the Henry Gallery at the University of Washington and the public TV station in Buffalo threw a major birthday party for him including showing the recent film "The rich have their own photographers" about him and his work. Not bad for a guy who was once castigated as "the biggest red in Buffalo".
I met Mr. Rogovin a time or two about 35 years ago. We had mutual friends in photographic circles when I lived near Buffalo. I wish I had known him better. Long may he wave.

(By the way, I am sure I'm not going to keep up this pace on posting. Nor are all the posts going to be primarily about photography -- just most of them.)

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