An Evening with Calvin Trillin

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This article was prepared for the September 24, 2003 issue of U.S.

1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

In the Galleries: Ricardo Barros

To help celebrate the Ellarslie Museum’s 25th

anniversary,

photographer Ricardo Barros will display a collection of documentary

images last seen as a complete set in the early 1980s: "The George

Green Machine Shop Portfolio."

Barros is one of three artists presenting their work at the Trenton

museum’s anniversary exhibit. The opening reception is Saturday,

September

27, for the show that runs through November 9. Sharing the exhibition

are photojournalist Philip McCauliffe and sculptor G. Frederick

Morante.

The photographs depict an early 20th-century machine shop that was

once located in Lambertville. The lustrous, black-and-white

photographs

reach beyond strict documentation to evoke in the viewer a sense of

what it was like to visit the "modern" workplace at the zenith

of the industrial revolution.

"Mr. Green’s machine shop has virtually disappeared. Mr. Green

is gone, and his machinery, although extant, is now being scattered.

The shell housing his equipment has an uncertain future," wrote

Barros when he completed the portfolio in 1982. "Working at the

behest of the Lambertville Historical Society, my task was to make

and preserve images of a wonderful past.

"Photographs describe to our mind the feeling of light, space

and surface. In photographic imagery, weight is measured by presence,

depth by darkness, and volume by luster. This vocabulary is direct.

It addresses our senses. Through visual imagery — often only parts

of a whole — I hope to preserve in the viewer the experience of

a very special place. This is a history that cannot be recorded. It

must be suggested."

Born in Seargeantsville, in 1885, George C. Green opened his machine

shop on York Street at the age of 24, in 1909. He repaired everything

from doll carriages to printing presses, often fabricating not only

the parts he needed but also the tools he needed to make the parts.

George Green was the fix-it man, and he plied his trade from this

location for half a century. An entrepreneur as well as a master

mechanic,

Green often chose, rather than just fixing things, to improve them

and then brought his ideas to market. At his funeral, on February

16, 1974, his wife Jenny Green slipped a wrench into his hands before

he was buried, presumably to keep making those adjustments to keep

our world turning.

Barros moved to Lambertville in 1980 during a time when

the Green Machine Shop was being quietly run by one of George Green’s

former assistants. "I have no recollection of ever passing through

York Street and seeing the shop door open. To me, the shop was just

another storefront," he says. "Then in 1982 the Lambertville

Historical Society requested that I get inside and photograph the

machine shop immediately. I had less than three days in which to work

— the shop was being sold and its contents were about to be

disposed

of. Upon gaining access, I experienced a bittersweet inspiration.

I was awestruck by what I found, and saddened to realize that soon

it would all be gone.

"Working with one camera made for very slow progress because the

interior spaces were so dark. I set up a second camera on its own

tripod, shuttling between the two cameras whenever the long exposures

allowed me to work on two compositions simultaneously. I was able

to make about 20 pictures under these constraints, and these were

exhibited that same year in Lambertville." This is the first time

since 1982 that Barros has presented this entire portfolio of images

since that show in 1982.

"These photographs represent a blend of technologies, both old

and new," he says. "The original images were made with black

and white film, mostly with a traditional view camera. Long exposures

were required because the George Green Machine Shop was so dark. The

exposures typically ranged from 10 seconds to 20 minutes, and for

some photographs the shutter was left open for hours. While I was

able to control the extreme contrast between light and dark values

through darkroom procedures, the negatives were still challenging

to print. I delivered one complete set of photographs to the

Lambertville

Historical Society, kept a few prints for my portfolio, and set the

negatives aside for years.

"Recently, with the advent of digital imaging, I revisited this

body of work. I discovered that 16-bit scans of the original film,

combined with the carbon pigment digital printing process that I now

use, could bring out information that was virtually invisible to

conventional

silver prints. Now, more detail from these vintage negatives is

accessible

both in the shadows and in the highlights. The tonal gradations are

smooth and subtle, and the matte prints’ surfaces are gentle on the

eyes. This state-of-the-art technology produces prints that hearken

back to the earliest days of the photographic medium. They are

reminiscent

of the hand-coated, platinum prints prevalent at the turn of the last

century — just about when George Green opened his shop."

Ricardo Barros is a professional photographer with a studio in

Morrisville.

His images are in the permanent collections of the museums that

include

the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art,

the Museum of Art of Sao Paulo, Brazil, the New Jersey State Museum,

and Harvard University’s Fogg Art Museum. His book, "Facing

Sculpture:

A Portfolio of Portraits, Sculpture and Related Ideas," will be

published by Image Spring Press in January, 2004.

Ricardo Barros, Phil McAuliffe, and Fred Morante,

Ellarslie,

Trenton City Museum , Cadwalader Park, Trenton, 609-989-3632. Show

continues to November 9. Artists’ reception is Saturday, September

27, 7 to 9 p.m.

Top Of Page
An Evening with Calvin Trillin

In the world of letters, Calvin Trillin is a man for

all seasons. Food, humor, serious non-fiction, and memoir are all

areas of his expertise. Family Guidance Center hosts "An Evening

with Calvin Trillin" at the Janssen Pharmaceutica Corporate Campus

in Titusville on Thursday, October 2, at 6:30 p.m. For reservations,

call 609-924-1320.

A man of letters who covers many genres, Trillin’s most recent book

is a compilation of essays: "Feeding a Yen: Savoring Local

Specialties

from Kansas City to Cuzco." In addition to writing for Time and

the Nation, Trillin has been a columnist at the New Yorker since 1963.

The Kansas City native’s books on eating — "American

Fried,"

"Alice, Let’s Eat," and "Third Helpings" — have

become classics of the genre. His serious non-fiction includes

"Remembering

Denny," "Killings," and his autobiographical memoir

"Messages

from My Father." He is also enjoyed for his comic novels, humorous

commentary, and political poems.

The Family Guidance Center was formed in 1993, the result of the

consolidation

of two agencies which, together, have given nearly a century of

service

to the community. "An Evening with Calvin Trillin" will

benefit

all its programs including Children’s Day School, Children’s Day

Treatment,

Behavioral Healthcare, Consumer Credit Counseling, and Substance Abuse

Treatment Services.

An Evening with Calvin Trillin, Family Guidance

Center ,

Janssen Pharmaceutica Corporate Campus, Titusville, 609-924-1320.

Annual benefit evening with buffet dinner. By reservation, $125.

Thursday,

October 2, 6:30 p.m.


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