The records of San Francisco Focus Gallery measure 11.8 linear feet and date from 1963-1987. The bulk of the collection consists of exhibition files. There are also artists files, sales information, correspondence, and scattered records of the gallery's companion bookshop.
Scope and Contents:
The records of San Francisco's Focus Gallery measure 11.8 linear feet and date from 1963-1987. The bulk of the collection consists of exhibition files. There are also artists files, sales information, correspondence, and scattered records of the gallery's companion bookshop.
Exhibition files comprise the bulk of the collection and generally contain a wide range of materials including correspondence, short biographies, forms requesting artists' background information, flyers, booklets, brochures, checklists, loan agreements, sales records, news releases, and photographs and negatives. Among the many photographers exhibited were Ansel Adams, Berenice Abbott, Bill Brandt, Wynn Bullock, Paul Caponigro, Imogen Cunningham, Judy Dater, Robert Heinecken, Eikoh Hosoe, Annie Leibovitz, Eliot Porter, Aaron Siskind, Jerry Uelsmann, and Brett Weston.
A relatively small amount of general business correspondence includes orders and payments for photographic prints, books, and magazine subscriptions, some personal notes, and requests for information about how to submit for exhibitions and for exhibition schedules. Correspondents include customers, photographers, publishers, law firms, museum, and colleges and universities. Correspondence from the founding year contains Johnston's letters to various venues prominent in art photography, such as George Eastman House. There is also a letter to Ansel Adams requesting prints to sell or for a small opening exhibit.
Additional records include artists' files; sales and inventory records containing print and bookshop inventories, general pricing information and receipts for photographs; and printed materials including flyers and brochures, bookshop catalogs and news releases. There are also scattered administrative records, including gallery history, a file on the Toren Gallery and five owner's notebooks, as well as The Imogen Cunningham Trust files documenting Focus Gallery's interactions with the trust before and after Cunningham's death regarding photographs printed and signed by her; financial and legal files; and guest books.
Documents in the collection that pre-date the founding of the gallery are found in the Toren Gallery file and a few of the exhibition files.
The collection is arranged as 8 series.
Series 1: Administrative Records, 1963-1985 (Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1966-1987 (Boxes 1-2; 1 linear foot)
Series 3: Exhibition Files, 1966-1985 (Boxes 2-10; 8.5 linear feet)
Series 4: Artists Files, 1966-1978 (Boxes 10-11; 0 .5 linear feet)
Series 5: Financial and Legal Files, 1966-1987 (Box 11; 0 .2 linear feet)
Series 6: Sales and Inventories, 1966-1987 (Box 11; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 7: Printed Materials, 1966-1987 (Boxes 11-12; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 8: Guest Books, 1966-1970, 1978-1985 (Boxes 12-13; 0.6 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical:
Focus Gallery was founded by Helen Head Johnson (1916-1989) in 1966 on Union Street in San Francisco. The gallery exhibited and sold primarily art photographs and other contemporary art.
Helen Head Johnston believed that photography deserved its own exhibition space. As stated in the gallery's first press release, "in seeking to encourage print collecting it (the gallery) offers not only a show place but also a market place for photographers." While retaining an emphasis on Bay Area photographers, the gallery's exhibitions soon became international in scope, featuring little known and well-established photographers through both solo and group exhibitions. With few exceptions, the gallery's policy was to feature an artist only once. To help keep the gallery going in its early days, Johnston started a bookshop mail-order business. At the time of its closing in August 1985, Focus Gallery was the longest continuously operating photography gallery in the country. The bookshop continued in another location for an additional two years.
The collection is arranged as 8 series
Series 1: Administrative records, 1963-1985, (Box 1 8 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1966-1987, undated (Box 1-2 1 linear foot)
Series 3: Exhibition files, 1966-1985 (Box 2-10 8.5 linear feet)
Series 4: Artists files, 1966-1978, undated (Box 10-11, 9 folders)
Series 5: Financial and Legal files, 1966-1987 (Box 11 6 folders)
Series 6: Sales and Inventories, 1966-1987, undated (Box 11 11 folders)
Series 7: Printed Materials, 1966-1987, undated (Box 11 and Hol 12 7 folders)
Series 8: Guest Books, 1966-1985 (Hol 12-13 6 folders)
Among the holding of the Archives of American Art is an untranscribed interview of Helen Johnston by Louise Katzman or Irene Borger in the collection Interviews of California Photographers 1981 Jun.-Nov.20.
Helen Johnston left her private photography collection to the de Saisset Museum, the Oakland Museum of California, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
The Focus Gallery records were donated by the estate of owner Helen Johnston, care of Gerald O'Conner, executor.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
The Focus Gallery records are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
This series contains material collected by and related to JEB (Joan E. Biren) noted lesbian photographer and "internationally recognized documentary artist". This series is arranged chronologically. This series contains publications, calendars, postcards, catalogues from photography exhibitions, press about JEB's exhibitions, and other items using JEB's photography. There is advertising and promotion material from her book, Eye to Eye: Portraits of Lesbians. This series contains material from JEB's documentaries, For Love and For Life about the 1987 March on Washington and A Simple Matter of Justice, about the April 1993 March on Washington. This series also contains the press clipping and press release files for the 1993 March on Washington used for A Simple Matter of Justice.
Subseries 1, Xerographic Copies of Photoprints, ?-?, undated. In some instances, the copyright date that is sometimes stamped on the print is obviously not the date the photograph was taken.
Subseries 2, Posters and Oversize Advertisement, 1973-2009, undated
The collection is open for research use.
Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis, as resources allow.
Do not use original materials when available on reference video or audio tapes.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: reproduction fees may apply. All duplication requests must be reviewed and approved by Archives Center staff.
Archives Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
(correspondence concerning advertising and publicity ideas; judging of photography exhibition, and articles for Camera magazine)
The microfilm of this collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website. Use of material not microfilmed or digitized requires an appointment.
The Rockwell Kent papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Rockwell Kent papers, circa 1840-1993, bulk 1935-1961. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The papers of San Francisco Beat era photographer, journalist, and poet Mark Green consist of correspondence, biographical information, photographs, Nanny Goat Hill Gallery exhibition announcements, printed materials, and exhibition files for "Rolling Renaissance" (1968) and "A Kind of Beatness: Photographs of a North Beach Era, 1950-1965" (1975) exhibitions that Green helped to organize. Photographs by Mark Green are of notable figures and places in the Beat movement, including Allen Ginsberg, Robert Rauschenberg, and Clyfford Still, as well as photographs by others of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Mark Green, and Jack Kerouac among others.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of San Francisco Beat photographer, journalist, and poet Mark Green consist of biographical information, correspondence, exhibition files, printed materials, scattered writings, and photographs. Photographs by Mark Green are of notable figures and places in the Beat movement, including Allen Ginsberg, Robert Rauschenberg, and Clyfford Still, as well as photographs by others of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Mark Green, and Jack Kerouac among others.
One folder of correspondence includes letters from Jay DeFeo, Wallace and Shirley Berman, and Robert Emory Johnson. Exhibition files are found for two Beat exhibitions that Mark Green assisted in organizing: "Rolling Renaissance", 1968 and "A Kind of Beatness: Photographs of a North Beach Era, 1950-1965", 1975. Exhibition files contain correspondence, photographs of work exhibited and installation views, clippings, announcements and catalogs. Photographs are of Thomas Albright, Francis Ford Coppola, Allen Ginsberg, Leonard Hull, Robert Emory Johnson, Bob Kauffman, J. Oliver Mitchell, Francis Rigney, Jerome Stauber, and Edward Silverstone Taylor. Correspondents include include Thomas Albright, Wallace Berman, Bill Eisenlord, Alfred Frankensten, Allen Ginsberg, Helen Johnson of the Focus Gallery, Robert Emory Johnson, Chester Kessler, and Philip Whalen.
Mark Green's writings include a history of the Nanny Goat Hill Gallery, a statement about his photography, and various notes.
Printed materials consist of clippings, exhibition announcements for the San Francisco area and Nanny Goat Hill Gallery, and comic books.
The series of photographs is particularly rich due to Green's thoughtful and informative reflections written on the back of many of the photographs. The majority of the photographs identify the photographer, sitter, date, and place. Many times, Green included his own recollections of the particular sitter or photographer as well. In addition to photographs of Mark Green, there are photographs taken by Green and others of important Beat Movement figures. There are also photographs of beatnick "hot-spots" including the Co-Existence Bagel Shop, The Cellar, and The Place.
The collection is arranged into 6 series:
Series 1: Biographical Information, 1967-1970s (Box 1; 1 folder)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1959-1976 (Box 1, 3; 1 folder)
Series 3: Exhibition Files, 1954-1975 (Box 1, 3; 13 folders)
Series 4: Writings and Notes, 1974-1978 (Box 1; 3 folders)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1959-1978 (Box 1-3; 8 folders)
Series 6: Photographs, 1950s-1970s (Box 2-3; 0.3 linear feet)
Mark Green (1932-) moved to San Francisco and became active in the "Beat Movement" as a photographer, writer, and arts advocate. He helped organize two major group exhibitions of beat-era arts and also founded the Nanny Goat Hill Gallery in San Francisco.
Green was born in Cleveland Heights, Ohio in 1932, and attended the University of Miami, Florida from 1950-1952. After taking classes in journalism and philosophy, Green began a career in media and worked as a copy-boy, reporter, and correspondent at various newspapers throughout the United States until 1956.
In 1957, Green moved to San Francisco and worked as a bartender at the Co-Existence Bagel Shop, a local spot for Beat gatherings. It was during this time that Green became involved with the Beat Movement and the San Francisco Renaissance. Green became friends with "Beatnick" figures including Edward Silverstone Taylor and Patricia Marx who encouraged him to take up photography. Green's poems were published in Beatitude and The Real Bohemia.
A more prolific photographer than poet, Mark Green exhibited his photographs at Seven Arts Gallery, the Critic's Choice San Francisco Art Festival (1964), the Focus Gallery, and the "San Francisco Renaissance" at the Gotham Book Mart and Gallery (1975). He was active in organizing group exhibitions including the "Rolling Renaissance" (1968) and "A Kind of Beatness: Photographs of a North Beach Era, 1950-1965" (1975). Additionally, Green founded the Nanny Goat Hill Gallery (1972-1974) to give little-known artists an outlet to exhibit their works.
The Archives of American Art holds an oral history interview with Robert Emory Johnson by Paul Karlstrom on March 14, 1975 that details the history of the Rolling Renaissance exhibition organized in part by Mark Green.
Mark Green donated his papers in 1974, 1976, 1979, and 1991.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
The Mark Green papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Three photographic platinum prints, signed by Steichen in pencil on the image, numbered in an unidentified hand in pencil on the reverse.
Stored in one box.
Biographical / Historical:
Edward Steichen (1879-1973) was an American painter and photographer born in Bivange, Luxembourg. He became a naturalized citizen in 1900. Steichen began his career as a fine art painter, but he soon took up the pictorialist approach to photography, going on to establish the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession with Alfred Stieglitz. During World War I, Steichen moved into straight photography, serving as Director of the Naval Photographic Institute during World War II and winning an Academy Award for Best Documentary for his 1945 film "The Fighting Lady". He is perhaps most well-known for his curatorial work for the 1955 photography exhibition "The Family of Man" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Steichen selected more than 500 images from professional and amateur photographers in over 68 countries to depict universal themes of the human experience, such as birth, death, war and illness. The exhibition traveled to 38 countries and was viewed by over 9 million people, resulting in an equally successful book of the same name, which included an introduction by Steichen's brother-in-law, the poet Carl Sandburg.
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919) was an American railroad-car manufacturer from Detroit, Michigan who amassed a large fortune as one of the founders of the Peninsular Car Company, which would go on to become American Car and Foundry. In the latter part of the 19th century, Freer was diagnosed with neurasthenia, the prescribed treatment for which was usually rest and avoidance of stressful activities. Freer began collecting art, starting with American masters and impressionist painters. Early on, Freer met and began collecting the works of James Whistler, who advised him to start collecting Asian art. Freer traveled to China, Japan and Korea, amassing a large private collection. Early in the twentieth century, Freer decided to donate his art to the public; in 1916, construction began on what is now known as the Freer Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian Institution. The building, which was paid for by Freer, cost one million dollars. Completion was delayed by World War I and the gallery was not opened until 1923. Freer died in 1919, leaving the bulk of his art collection to the federal government. This photograph comes originally from the Estate of Clarence P. Freer, nephew of Charles Lang Freer.
FSA A.01 12.01.1
Collection is open for research.
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Portraits -- Men
Charles Lang Freer Papers. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Gift of the estate of Charles Lang Freer.
Imag(in)ing the Seminole : photographs and their use since 1880 : an exhibition / produced by the Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach Community College, Daytona Beach, Florida ; [Alison Devine Nordström and Patricia West, curators]
Sarah Charlesworth, a retrospective / [organized by SITE Santa Fe ; curated by Louis Grachos and Susan Fisher Sterling ; with assistance from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego]