Exploring the history and cultural landscape of Madison, Wisconsin – Part 4: The Mifflin Street Cooperative mural

Thumbnail image for Exploring the history and cultural landscape of Madison, Wisconsin – Part 4: The Mifflin Street Cooperative mural September 21, 2007

It was a dark and stormy afternoon. In the midst of the seemingly endless days of August rain, for some reason I no longer remember, I decided it was imperative that I drive to Downtown Madison to pick up my mail at the post office. That’s how I happened to find myself creeping along a […]

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Locked out of the lecture room and other tales from the opening night reception for “Small Arms – Children of Conflict: Photographs by Michael Kienitz”

Thumbnail image for Locked out of the lecture room and other tales from the opening night reception for “Small Arms – Children of Conflict: Photographs by Michael Kienitz” September 10, 2007

There were two questions people kept asking one another Friday evening at the Chazen Museum of Art: “Did you get in to hear the lecture before they locked the doors?” and “Have you ever seen such a large crowd at an event like this?” The occasion was a public reception for the opening of “Small […]

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Art in public places: Sid Boyum’s concrete sculptures find new homes on Madison’s East Side

Thumbnail image for Art in public places: Sid Boyum’s concrete sculptures find new homes on Madison’s East Side August 15, 2007

Amble around Madison’s near East Side and you’re likely to encounter some of Sid Boyum’s concrete sculptures. Perhaps the white lantern located on a landscaped area near the intersection of Atwood Avenue and Winnebago Street, the intriguing tangle of limbs and faces near the intersection of Atwood and Division Street, or the smiling mushroom and […]

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Restaurants and postcards, with a guest appearance from four men wearing hats

Thumbnail image for Restaurants and postcards, with a guest appearance from four men wearing hats July 24, 2007

For a long time, the subject eluded me. At first, I thought perhaps it was food: Curly French fries, chili dogs, icy-cold root beer floats, tiny glasses of tomato juice, pizza covered with a thick layer of mozzarella cheese and topped with spicy sausage, hot tea in a glass, Chicken Kiev, cranberry kissel. Then I […]

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Exploring the history and cultural landscape of Madison, Wisconsin – Part 3: Chewing on another slice of the Black Lemon

Thumbnail image for Exploring the history and cultural landscape of Madison, Wisconsin – Part 3: Chewing on another slice of the Black Lemon July 17, 2007

David Wood gives me some flyers before I leave Del Wood’s Country Store: Both seem to have misplaced apostrophes. One is an order form for pre-assembled gifts of Wisconsin cheese and sausage. The other features a drawing of the store’s exterior façade and directions for finding the store. Underneath the drawing is a caption that […]

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Exploring the history and cultural landscape of Madison, Wisconsin – Part 2: Another slice of the Black Lemon

Thumbnail image for Exploring the history and cultural landscape of Madison, Wisconsin – Part 2: Another slice of the Black Lemon July 16, 2007

It’s almost noon on an overcast April day and paying customers are increasingly interrupting my conversation with David Wood. So while he sells cheese and sausage and makes sandwiches, I wander around his store. I admire the taxidermy in the nook by his office, look at the shelves full of antiques, and wonder why someone […]

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Thoughts on a photograph of four men wearing hats

Thumbnail image for Thoughts on a photograph of four men wearing hats July 14, 2007

Not long ago, I did something I never expected to do: I bought a photograph of four men whose names I’ll probably never know. Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about photography and history. Various other related topics have also been floating in and out of my consciousness, although they haven’t been haunting my […]

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Exploring the history and cultural landscape of Madison, Wisconsin – Part 1: Baby boomers & beer bars

Thumbnail image for Exploring the history and cultural landscape of Madison, Wisconsin – Part 1: Baby boomers & beer bars July 6, 2007

For the first wave of Baby Boomers, those born when Harry S. Truman was still president of the 48 United States of America, coming of age in Madison, Wisconsin meant coping with conflicting messages about adulthood: You could drink beer legally when you turned 18, but you couldn’t drink liquor or vote until you were […]

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Paper calibrations, filters, and memories: The subject and the photographer

Thumbnail image for Paper calibrations, filters, and memories: The subject and the photographer June 13, 2007

His name is Junius, and I have hundreds of photographs of him. Not different photographs, but the same one printed over and over, each about 3.25″ x 2.25″ and each with handwritten notes on the back. I found this photo cache in large pocket folder full of negatives and contact sheets from the summer I […]

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Looking at the “informal clutter”of daily life: The East Side History Club is collecting memories and preserving local history

Thumbnail image for Looking at the “informal clutter”of daily life: The East Side History Club is collecting memories and preserving local history June 1, 2007

If we want to understand our past, we need to look at the informal clutter of daily life, says personal historian Sarah White. That’s why she and her colleagues, Ann Waidelich and Pat Martin, are encouraging people who lived and grew up on Madison East Side to share their memories and informal photographs of life […]

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