UPDATE: The Vivian Maier Phenomenon Continues…

Still humbled by John Maloof’s incredible discovery.

So much happening, so little to go on. The absence of color allows the viewer’s imagination to go wild.

Inspired by: Vivian Maier and vivianmaier.com

Swearing off all usage of the phrase “shock and awe” almost as soon as I heard it helped me deny its imprint, so now it can land where it wants, such as with street photographer Vivian Maier’s recently discovered body of work. I am in shock that Maier could hide the outcome of a life’s passion from the world so effectively, and I’m in awe of the work itself. I’m also in shock that someone unknowingly found thousands of Maier’s photos and undeveloped rolls of film, and I’m in awe of that person’s willingness to rise to the occasion and share them.

The kid with the bucket all the way down on his head is friggin’ priceless: somehow I just can’t stop looking at this picture.

In contrast to the toxic levels of instant access we live with every day, Vivian Maier was a monument to the notion of creating and maintaining a relationship with delayed gratification. 

I have pictures of my grandfather from the 1940s in which he might’ve been about this woman’s age. I also lost his camera somewhere on those very steps. I still feel terrible about it; this picture doesn’t help.

The short version of Vivian’s story can be told in 3.3 seconds courtesy of A&E’s “Storage Wars,” but since posting In Admiration of Vivian Maier, 1926-2009, in May of this year, I’ve spoken with a number of people who agree that Maier and her work deserve much more. I’m confident you will too. The idea is to get you to dive in, use the Internet for its absolutely positively 100% guaranteed best purpose. Click around and learn about Vivian Maier’s life on the streets of New York, Chicago, and elsewhere.

 That sandwich doesn’t look so good, but Christ, neither does that hand!

With little exception, those who’ve discovered Vivian Maier and taken a closer look at (what little there is to know of) her life have all have gone on to become ardent fans of her and her liberator/protector, John Maloof. It’s been about a year since Maloof began letting the world in on his accidental discovery and its wonderful secrets, something Maier herself had chosen not to do.

Which one of these little soldiers is the most in need of that wall? I’m bettin’ on Jr. toward the far left there, the one with the glare of a Ringside cut-man at the end of the 10th round.

If you’re not into photography, you may wonder what the big deal is. I’m only an amateur enthusiast with a few cameras: some vintage, one Polaroid, and an iPhone4. I don’t usually know why I like the pictures I do, but with Maier’s work I can’t help but imagine what it was that humored or saddened her and where she might next have turned her lens. Her photos are just plain compelling.

Beginning today in New York, the public will be able to judge Maier’s work up close and meet those who have been touched by her self-taught sidewalk brilliance. The exhibit is being hosted by the Howard Greenberg Gallery on 57th Street and another, starting January 7th in L.A., will be held at the Merry Karnowsky Gallery.

I’ve already marked my calendar.

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