Bill Eppridge: An American Treasure at Monroe Gallery of Photography in Santa Fe, NM

© Bill Eppridge
As is the case with most great art--the deep impact of the work often renders the creator invisible. Seeing a cross section of a lifetime's output turns the focus back onto the artist, when a thread of continuity is seen even between vastly disparate subjects.

This is the case for Bill Eppridge, a master photojournalist whose 50 year career is distilled into 50 photographs for the exhibition "Bill Eppridge: An American Treasure" at Monroe Gallery of Photography in Santa Fe, opening July 2, 2010. Connecticut Photographics and Still River Editions printed both traditional gelatin silver prints and digital archival color and black and white prints for this show.

Though Eppridge may be known best for his iconic images of Bobby Kennedy before and during the "Heartbreak Campaign", and his gorgeous black and white coverage of the Beatles' first visit to America, it is the scope of his career that is most remarkable. All of the images are connected by Eppridge's hungry eye and poetic gravity. Quoting from Monroe Gallery's website, "he has covered wars, political campaigns, heroin addiction, the arrival of the Beatles in the United States, Vietnam, Woodstock, the summer and winter Olympics, and perhaps the most dramatic moment of his career - the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles. Over the last 50 years, his work has appeared in numerous publications, including National Geographic, Life, and Sports Illustrated."

And when you see the photographs, you understand. Forgive me if I lapse into stream-of-consciousness--going from the Beatles' arrival in America, and the unbridled optimism of the Bobby Kennedy campaign, to Woodstock, America's Cup, you find your heart in your throat seeing the busboy kneeling over a dying RFK, and the funeral procession of James Cheney ("Missisippi Burning"). Portraits of Barbara Streisand, Jonas Salk, and Cesar Chavez... and then sports coverage... and Apollo 11... the shockingly beautiful, but devastating coverage of "Needle Park"... and these are only fifty prints out of an astounding body of work.

Bill Eppridge will be present at the gallery's opening reception on Friday, July 2, from 5-7 pm. The Monroe Gallery of Photography is located at 112 Don Gaspar, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

There's a cover story about Eppridge from 2008 in Double Exposure which gives some good background.