Dear Friends,
Next month, fifty-seven years ago, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  I was a junior in high school in western Massachusetts.  For a myriad of reasons, I was devastated by this tragedy.  I was not alone in this feeling. The Nation, in fact the whole world mourned the loss of our President.  School was called off for a week while the eventual killing of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby unfolded before us on live television.
Then there was Kennedy’s funeral with First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy and the children. The image of John, Jr., pictured standing at attention and saluting while his father’s horse-drawn hearse paraded by, was particularly poignant.  The picture magazines of the day, including LOOK and LIFE as well as others, published dozens of commemorative editions of the events.  Without question, it was a sad time.
I am lucky to own two vintage photographs of President Kennedy and his children taken shortly before his death.  In one photograph, Caroline and John, Jr. were in the oval office wearing their Halloween costumes while President Kennedy, full of life, was laughing and thoroughly enjoying himself and his children.
The other photograph taken by Alan Stanley Tretick for LOOK Magazine in October 1963, shows John, Jr. playing under his father's desk in the oval office. The photograph was taken while Jacqueline Kennedy was out of the country since she was against having her children photographed and used for political purposes.  An advance copy of LOOK Magazine with the photos travelled with the Kennedys to Dallas — and hit the newsstands several days after the assassination.  The image portrays the myth and memory of Camelot — that of a youthful President running the country with a young family playing at his side in the White House.
Kennedy was not a perfect man but his presidency at the time was right for our country.
Last Sunday on television, I watched The Way I See It, a documentary about Pete Souza, President Obama’s official White House photographer.  I loved the film. In his still images, Pete was able to capture the youth, vigor and humanity of Barack Obama.  From a photographic perspective, it was a joy to watch how the camera is able to capture moments in time that can portray events that have lasting impact.  Imagine Obama bending forward so a young African American boy can feel that the President’s hair is just like his.
This brings me to the upcoming events that the Griffin is planning for the weekend starting on Friday, November 13 and ending on Sunday, the 15, 2020, and particularly the Auction that will be held on Sunday, November 15th.
On Friday, November 13, the Griffin will be presenting its Focus Awards to two gallerists, Robert Klein of Boston and Arnika Dawkins of Atlanta.  
The award will be presented by Stan Trecker, who was President of the Art Institute of Boston and Montserrat College, and the Dean of Lesley University where he is now Dean Emeritus.

Robert will be receiving a lifetime achievement award for his ongoing commitment to photography as a gallery owner and as president for over a decade of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD).  
Arnika will be receiving a rising star award for her commitment to featuring talented emerging and mid-career artists particularly in showing work by African Americans and images of people from the African Diaspora.  Her passion is connecting collectors to photography that is significant, inspiring and provocative.
Arnika’s award will be presented by Deborah Willis, Ph.D, University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.  All of Deborah’s achievements and awards are too numerous to list in this letter. The short list includes the publication of numerous books and the receipt of both MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships. (Read Deborah's full bio in the link above.)
The weekend continues with interviews of prominent photographers and lectures about photography and copyrights. Instructions for signing up for these programs can be found on the Griffin website. The festivities conclude with an auction of amazing photographs with the proceeds going directly to the Museum to help fund the Griffin and enhance its mission and physical plant.  The range of images is outstanding, from Ernest Withers’ powerful image of African Americans marching for equal justice to Susan Lapides’ portrait of the fisherman’s daughter, wondering if her father will come home safely.  There are dozens of powerful portraits, landscapes and wonderful images of animals.  Simply, there are photographs for everyone, no matter your taste.  In addition, a generous donor recently gave us an original Pete Souza photograph to auction showing President Obama bending forward so a young African American boy could feel that his hair was just like Obama’s.
There is no charge for participating in the auction but Registration for bidding is required.  The Focus Awards is a Free event as well. A detailed catalog of images and registration instructions will be posted on the Griffin’s website on or about November 1, 2020.

Please join us for the festivities and the auction and bid early and often.  The need is great and the cause is wonderful.  Your prize will be the knowledge that you are helping a great institution and you will win a wonderful photograph that will enhance your life and may even rise in value.  

Our gratitude goes to all the photographers, collectors and participants who have made this special event opportunity a reality.


Drew Epstein
President of the Board of Directors
Griffin Museum of Photography

Photo credit of Drew Epstein by Jennifer Farrell
Photo credit of President Kennedy by Alan Stanley Tretick for LOOK
Photo credit of Robert Klein at AIPAD by Julienne Schaer
Photo credit of Stan Trecker courtesy of Lesley University
Photo of Arnika Dawkins by Allen Cooley
Photo credit of Deborah Willis by Alice Proujansky
Fisherman's Daughter © Susan Lapides
Bottom photo by Ernest Withers