Sunday, January 28, 2007

December Trip (part two)

From Detroit, my wife and I flew to Rochester, New York. As most readers of this blog know, Louise Brooks made her home in Rochester starting in the late 1950's. Rochester is also home to the George Eastman House, one of the largest motion picture archives in the world.  My wife and I spent a full day at the GEH, mostly looking through clipping files and archival material related to the actress. We read letters both to and from Brooks, looked at vintage photographs she once owned, poured over many clippings about the actress, and examined other related documents such as manuscript pages, programs, and books. And of course, we took lots of notes.

While at the George Eastman House, we also took the opportunity to see the Louise Brooks exhibit, which was then on display. Here are a few snapshots taken in the museum. Anthony L'Abbate, the helpful curatorial assistant, took this first picture of my wife and I. It was very exciting to be there.

As can be seen from these pictures, the Brooks exhibit at the GEH was a modest one. (The exhibit took up one room - with a few other pictures hanging in the adjoining hallway.) The exhibit mostly featured photographs, many of which were familiar, some of which were not. There were also a few related magazines, books, and other items, including a painting of two birds by Louise Brooks. The painting - which is something I had never seen before - can be seen in two of the images below. (There is similiar piece of art depicted in the Barry Paris biography - see page 446.) I wonder how many such artworks Brooks completed?

It was thrilling to see this exhibit. And I am very glad we took the time to do so. My only regret is that we did not get into the GEH Dryden Theater. Wwe saw it from the outside, but it would have been interesting to see it from the inside. Lastly, here is a snapshot of one-half of the Brooks display in the George Eastman House gift shop. There were also a few DVD's for sale. Peter Cowie's new book and the recently released Pandora's Box DVD from Criterion were each featured prominantly.

While in Rochester, my wife and I also walked around the downtown. (Imagining Brooks herself walking these very streets in the 1950s or 1960's, perhaps . . . .)  We also made a point of visiting the Rochester Public Library - which Brooks frequented - and took the opportunity to do some research. 

We dug up articles, reviews and advertisements for the Denishawn Dance Company's two performances in Rochester during the years Brooks was a member of the troupe. We also scavenged some reviews and advertisements for Brooks' films when they were shown in the city in the 1920's. (Back then, Rochester boasted more than four city newspapers. And to date, I have only been able to get at a couple of them.)  We also copied more recent articles from the Rochester newspapers. For example, there were articles about the actress by Henry Clune, a local columnist. There was considerable coverage, including large headlines and front page articles, about the actress at the time of her death. And there were articles about the Louise Brooks biography by Barry Paris. All together, we gathered much new material. Citations for all that we found have been added to the LBS bibliographies.

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