Judith Glickman Lauder will have a leading role when Maine’s Portland Museum of Art reopens Friday, following a monthlong reinstalling.
“Artist’s Choice: Photographs from the Judy Glickman Lauder Collection” is one of the new exhibitions that visitors will find in the reimagined space where 20 percent more art from the museum’s collection will be on view.
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, Lauder’s interest in the medium stemmed from her Pictorialist photographer father Irving Bennett Ellis, whose friends included Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. Aside from being a doctor, chiropractor and dietician, he was also a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain and president of the Oakland Camera Club. Long before she became a photographer in her own right and started collecting nearly 50 years ago, Lauder went on a field trip with Weston to California’s Point Lobos. In a Q&A with PMA chief curator Jessica May, she recalled him demonstrating his cameras and tripod.
“Well, I was really just a child. I don’t have a sense of it. I have a sense of the environment, the moment, everybody just glued in on him. And he was up here, and we were all there. “
In the PMA interview, she described seeing Max Yavno, George Hurrell and Edmund Teske when she was in the G. Ray Hawkins gallery. As a docent at the Frederick Wright Gallery at UCLA, she was blown away by Graham Nash’s collection including “Small Woods Where I Met Myself.”
Lauder, an active member of Maine Photographic Workshops (now known as Maine Media Workshops), has summered on Great Diamond Island for years. Last year, she and her husband Leonard Lauder gave a $5 million donation to the PMA, its largest matching gift to date.
For “Artist’s Choice,” she has selected works from various photographers including American ones with Maine and California roots. Hurrell’s 1932 portrait of Joan Crawford, Richard Avedon’s 1969 “Chicago Seven,” John Goodman’s 1976 shot of Muhammad Ali and Robert Capa’s 1948 pairing of Pablo Picasso trailing Francoise Gilot with a beach umbrella are featured along with more everyman ones like Sebastião Salgado’s “Gold Mine,” which captures hundreds at work in Brazil, and Danny Lyon’s 1968 “Cotton Pickers, Ferguson Unit, Texas Department of Corrections.” Those last two seem to emphasize an ideology Lauder shared with May, “I’ve always felt that photography is more involved in the human story than other media.”
Lauder, whose own work is featured in 300 collections, has some of her photos on view including the 1991 “Bohusovice Train Station, Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia” and the more artistic “Venice” from 1997. Lauder told May, “…a lot of my work is a little bit mysterious, too. And the collecting just sort of happened. It was a time when photography was reasonable, and I used to haunt a lot of the photography galleries in Los Angeles. I was relatively newly married. No one could afford anything, but photography was affordable, and I bought some incredible images that I love, love, love.”
Later, Lauder spent years delving into the actual sites of the Holocaust. In the early Nineties, she was asked to go to Denmark to locate and photograph Danish World War II rescuers and survivors. Asked by May about the social justice in her work, the photographer-curator said, “What I’m all about in all my work is dealing with the Holocaust, and dealing with how one cannot allow hate to ever happen. And humanity and justice and tolerance and all of that. Yes, there’s a lot of that in the work, and there’s also a lot of humor. I just get so much joy from these images. They tell a whole era, a whole period, a whole story, and yeah — these are about humanity. And I’m about humanity, so it all kind of works.”
Lauder’s show will be on view through May 29.