Citizen Staff Writer
Photographer Bernice Kolko captured images of the famous and the overlooked. It’s easy to get drawn into the world of the art stars she shot and socialized with in Mexico City circa 1950 – Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Jose Luis Cuevas – but her documentation of the less illustrious is equally compelling.
Richard Kolko prefers his Polish-born grandmother’s photos of everyday people, which, he says, he finds dignified and iconic.
“When I look at these faces, I feel like I know these people,” he says.
Kolko is exhibiting some 30 photographs by his late grandmother at Espresso Art. Images range from a portrait of Kahlo to works from some of her “faces” series, including Faces of Mexico and Faces of Ethiopia.
The photographs, Phoenix-based Kolko says, have been in rotation on his own walls for decades. Friday he was surrounded by them at the Armory Park home of local painter Richard Jarvis, who is matting and framing the works for the show.
Kolko was just 6 years old when his grandmother died, but he recalls a vivacious woman who loved to talk about art. Though she lived in Mexico City, she would often visit her family in the United States.
“I remember her,” he says, “looking down at her camera and smiling.”
“I’m interested in the life I capture with my camera because salvation lies in life and love,” Bernice Kolko is quoted as saying in an obituary that ran Dec. 24, 1970, in The News (Mexico City). “My professional responsibility is in expressing, creating life and exploring the impossible. I know the world in which I live is filled with contradictions and unhappy discord between human beings trying to survive with love and dignity. Photography reveals a faithful document of life as it is.”
The exhibit runs through Sept. 12.
IF YOU GO
What: Bernice Kolko exhibit
When: opening reception 6 p.m. Friday; runs 6:30 a.m.-midnight daily through Sept. 12
Where: Espresso Art, 942 E. University Blvd.