I met Joseph Hanna in the West Village, poking around his leather store while I waited for a dinner reservation. The place was cavernous. Big messenger bags were stuffed into corners and luggage hung precariously from the ceiling. Maybe the piney smell of leather oil was making me feel dreamy, but that particular night I felt an aimlessness that was an invitation. My fingers drifted across the soft straps; searching for flaws in the grain of the wood countertop; tapping out in Morse code, “talk to me.” New York is a city full of stories after all. You just have open yourself to the unexpected.
The shopkeeper sensed I had time to kill. He grabbed my purse, opening and closing the clasp. “Nice — from Greece,” he said, not needing confirmation. We started chatting while he mindlessly oiled the infinite crannies of my vintage bag. I have trouble telling people I work in advertising, especially the sort of man who has owned a leather shop for 40 odd years. I stretched for a better truth. “Oh, you are a writer?” Joseph asks for confirmation, “I have a story for you.” Read More
Further investigating personal collections, we talk to American photojournalist Martha Cooper. Cooper, capturing pictures since the age of three, is now one of New York’s prominent street art photographers. Through her years photographing in bombed out neighborhoods of Brooklyn and New York, Cooper is celebrated for the soft eye she has for her subjects, always seeking out a serendipity of the street despite it’s dangers.
With the same whimsy she brings to her subjects of the street, it flourishes in her collection of toy cameras and photographica. An artist of organization, she explains the presence collections have in both her photography and the playful possessions she has acquired as a collector. Read More
Mal de Mar
by MAUREEN O'BRIEN
Midwest summers in my grandparents house were hot and leaden with the smell of perfumed soaps and car oil. It was summer when Mom told me of her younger brother Ben’s death and handed me a photo from the mantelpiece. It was encased in a frame, and inside was a tiny unfamiliar body with hands smaller than my eight year old mitts. “It was a farming accident. Your grandmother never recovered,” she told me. We didn’t speak of him, or my grandmother, again. Idle after university I began to resist this falling away. I hungered for a history proven elusive with a ferocity that perhaps matched my grandmother’s hunger to disappear.
I imagined my grandparents’ world mirroring the seasoned black and white photos on our mantelpiece. The light hit sternly from above, giving them a ghostly hollow cheeked conviction. My mother rarely told stories of their lives, sound bites not to be elicited like announcements made over an airport loudspeaker. Their history felt fragile to me even as a child. Read More