Photography & Journalism with Darcy Padilla & Julian Cox - Opening Remarks

By Chris, 11/19/2016, in Everything else

On November 17th, I chaired an event at the de Young Museum related to the opening of the exhibit Danny Lyon: Message to the Future. It's there through April 30th, 2017 and I encourage anyone in San Francisco during its run to see it. Danny Lyon is a remarkable photographer and artist, with a long history of nosing into important social themes, at just the right time. The work of Bay Area photographer and journalist Darcy Padilla is closely related. She has spent her career in similar pursuits, with haunting and memorable results.

Through ArtPoint, the young patron's group affiliated with the museums, we hosted a conversation between Darcy and Julian Cox, the curator who put together the Danny Lyon exhibit, in collaboration with the artist, over the past few years. The discussion between Julian and Darcy focused on her work, and the broader concerns of socially conscious photo-journalism. My opening remarks are below.


The tangled intimacy of artist and subject is what grabbed me the first time I saw Danny Lyon's work, and Darcy Padilla's.

With Lyon, it was a photo from The Bikeriders. A young man, about 20, with a pock-marked face, leering out at me -- a face strikingly similar to my father's, and wearing a motorcycle club jacket that my dad would have been jealous of, having flirted with, but never quite fully embraced, his own rebellious side.

And with Darcy, it was The Julie Project, the heart-wrenching, decade-and-a-half-long photo-journalism story of Julie, a mother trapped in relentless poverty, as she lived and died with drugs, AIDS, and abuse. I came across The Julie Project at work, which I would not recommend, as my colleagues are still worried about what caused me to sob at my desk in the middle of a work day.

The images from Darcy, an award-winning photojournalist and our guest here tonight, and Danny Lyon, in whose work you will find many parallels, and you'll have the opportunity to view after this program, these images are full to the brim with empathy.

These are images of immediate proximity. Of immediate understanding -- to people and situations otherwise hard to see, on the margins of society.

Darcy & Danny have spent their careers documenting people, stories, and narratives that are simply not in our usual line of sight.

They have both worked extensively in prisons, surfacing the intentionally and knowingly hidden away. And both have documented systemic poverty and disenfranchisement.

It is hard work to see from the perspective of others. It takes effort and exertion and intention. These artists do this work on our behalf so we can transmute from stories that would otherwise simply fade from our collective consciousness.

Tonight, we have a unique opportunity to learn more. Julian Cox, chief curator of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, will speak with Darcy about present day photo-journalism, and her work. Afterwards, please explore the exhibit Danny Lyon: Message to the Future, which Julian has organized, and is the first comprehensive retrospective of Lyon's work. It will remain open until 10pm, in the far galleries on this floor.

On behalf of ArtPoint, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, we welcome you, our audience, and Julian and Darcy. Thank you, and enjoy.

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