Sunday, June 2, 2019

Mary McCartney: From the Print Drawer

You can learn a lot about people by running errands with them. Back in 1994, I interviewed Linda McCartney, Paul's late wife, during her "Sun Prints" show at A Gallery for Fine Photography. We soon realized that we were once almost neighbors in New York's East Village, and even knew some of the same people, back when I was playing hooky from UNO and she was a young photographer named Linda Eastman. We talked for an hour and a half as her daughter, Mary, refreshed our bottled water. Finally, Paul showed up and our conversation continued for a bit on the streets of the French Quarter, where we ducked into Walgreens when someone needed Tylenol. It seemed shocking that we were all soon standing in line when most celebs would have sent a staff gofer to fetch the pills. We met again at  a party, but it was at Walgreens that I realized the McCartneys, beyond being extraordinarily nice, were the rare celebs who remained "real people" in spite of it all.

Fast forward to the present and Mary McCartney's photographs are now on the wall. What I find   striking is how her vision saliently and aesthetically reflects how so many regular, “real people” see the world around them. Here ordinary places and things are revealed in those rare moments when they come across as extraordinary epiphanies, and extraordinary people appear in ways that express the common humanity we all share. For instance, “Butterfly in Pool” reads like a beautiful mystery. How, and why, did it end up there? “Beach House, Sussex,” a dark cottage on a rocky shore at dusk, seems to glow with the souls of its occupants over the ages. In “Joni Mitchell, London,” the iconic singer looks solemn, haughty yet vulnerable. These works reflect Mary and her mom's shared unselfconscious quality of pure awareness. I never forgot Linda McCartney's empathy, kindness and generosity, and was deeply saddened when she died in 1998. It is very gratifying that so many of her visionary goals and traits live on in her idealistic and uniquely talented daughter, Mary. ~ Bookhardt / Mary McCartney: From the Print Drawer, Through August 1, A Gallery For Fine Photography, 241 Chartres St., 568-1313.