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Frank Espada, 1930-2014, Que En Paz Descanse

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on February 18, 2014

fes_portrait
I had the privilege of knowing Frank Espada through my wife. Frank founded the organization, Bay Area Photographers Collective, of which my wife is a member. Being an opinionated, cantankerous old/New Leftie, he eventually quit BAPC due to political and artistic differences, but he continued to mentor and inspire local photographers with his skill and talent. I own his book The Puerto Rican Diaspora: Themes in the Survival of a People, a brilliant portrait of his community whose black-and-white photographs are visceral and tactile. I’m proud to say that my wife and I own a number of Frank Espada original, old school darkroom prints, which hold an honored place on our walls and shelves.
malcolmx
Just one Frank Espada story. I remember attending one of his exhibitions, where the above iconic photograph was prominently displayed. I was admiring it when Frank walked up alongside me. Noticing that the Malcolm X photo was actually quite reasonably priced, I asked him if there were copies of the print available for sale. He said no, that this was the one print available at that time, and that he didn’t do large runs of particular photographs. Then he asked me whether he thought the price and quantity of his photography should be commercially determined. When I said yes, unthinking, with an eye toward owning my own copy, he immediately came back with the comment that the value of art, all art, should never be determined by the market. From there our discussion turned to criticizing “art for art’s sake,” the social responsibility of the artist, the need for art to be accessible, etc. Frank was a socialist with an abiding critique of capitalism, one of the things I liked and admired about him.

Frank’s papers and photos were recently acquired by Duke University, and his website can be found here.

Que En Paz Descanse.

Así son las cosas de la vida.
One obituary
Another obituary
Yet another obituary
A final one

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One Response to “Frank Espada, 1930-2014, Que En Paz Descanse”

  1. Kay Taneyhill said

    Very nice.

    ________________________________

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