40/40: 40 Years 40 Portraits
193 North Limestone Street in downtown Lexington houses Institute 193 – a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote contemporary southern artists. It offers an art space that exhibits the work of emerging and mid-career professionals who are chosen for the quality and relevance of their work, not its commercial possibilities. One of these artists is Guy Mendes – a photographer whose work Kentucky author Wendell Berry describes thusly: “…with unusual patience submitted to time, watching through the relentless succession of instants for the instant that will be most revealing of the character of somebody or some place or both at once.”
“40/40″ is a soft bound collection of 40 portraits of people, and in one case an animal, who have crossed paths with Mendes and, as it is described best, who have participated with him in capturing them photographically. Through both words and images, a snapshot of each individual is revealed.
Most notable among his subjects is Ralph Eugene Meatyard – a friend and mentor to whom Mendes was introduced by Berry. Meatyard’s downtown Lexington optical shop, which was also a gallery, was a favorite meeting place. Harlan and Anna Hubbard, shanty boat inhabitants, are shown playing the musical instruments that defined their existence. Folk artist Edgar Tolson, known for his carved figures, poses with a new piece, still in its infancy. Debonair Patrick Edward Madden glances over his shoulder at the camera from the seat of vintage sports car. From page to page Mendes’ portfolio, printed as the book “40/40,” captures a mood, an essence and the images of personalities that intrigue.
Mendes arrived at UK in 1966 to study journalism and redirected his focus upon meeting Meatyard. Working as a producer at Kentucky Educational Television for 35 years allowed him the financial freedom to pursue his vision of photography and now
in his retirement from KET, and with support from various sources, including online crowdsourced funding via kickstarter.com, his vision is in print on the pages of “40/40.”
In a large, colorful volume that explores Lexington’s nooks and crannies, day and night life, cultural and sporting events – among many other sites and events – author Luther Deaton describes the varying and colorful facets that compile the city’s cityscape as a whole.
A pictorial essay that tells Lexington’s story as well as any volume of words, “Bluegrass Visions” offers sweeping views of horse country, University of Kentucky locations, Lexington Cemetery sites, neighborhoods and neighbors, scenes from Gratz Park and the Woodford Distillery, Keeneland, and various landmark locations. A list of corporations and concerns that have been notable participants in Lexington’s history is provided as well. Described as “Highlighting the Greater Lexington Area,” the photographs define the character of the city from its obvious components to its smaller, but far from insignificant ones. Each page turned is a reminder of the richness that Lexington holds and a highlight of the city we call home.