My Past Just Crossed My Future
By Christie Seeley
Recently I read an article, actually an obituary, about a photographer and musician who used the pinhole technique very effectively during her career. I found the story very interesting, and it brought to mind my evening at Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco some years ago.
My last year at my job at a real estate investment firm was deluged with events. I loved creating experiences for people, which was not so much a burden as it was a pleasure. One such event involved an evening for employees and investors at a prominent art gallery in San Francisco. The owners of Fraenkel Gallery were friends of and investors in our companies properties. The gallery was created by the ambitious pair Jeffrey Fraenkel and Frish Brandt in 1979 out of their love for photography. They wanted to bring the medium to the attention of a more serious art-oriented public. They chose an appropriate location in downtown San Francisco near the prestigious SF MOMA art museum. Our group finished off our event with a lovely dinner in nearby Cafe Claude's outdoor alley, an excellent bohemian style French jazz bistro. It was indeed an unforgettable evening. One of the highlights for me was an exhibit of pinhole photography. Not being a real connoisseur of photography but a medium lover, I was unfamiliar with Pinhole photography. I was blown away by what I saw that night. This technique involves a very long exposure of an inanimate object through a tiny pinhole opening in the camera's lens. It requires much patience and produces a fascinating result.
Interestingly for me, there is another connection to Fraenkel Gallery that I only recently discovered. When working my way through the corporate community in San Francisco, I had the opportunity to be employed by an amazing man celebrated as one of the most successful value fund managers in the country at the time, Andy Pilara. Although I had no previous experience in the investment business, he trusted me to learn. The job was exciting, and the company a delightful place to work. Recently I learned that my ex boss’ passion is photography. Beginning with a visit to the same Fraenkel Gallery, he started purchasing and collecting magnificent pieces. He eventually began showing his collection in a space located in a warehouse on one of the San Francisco Bay piers. Pier 24 has a reputation as one of the most extraordinary places to see and enjoy photography in the country. Admission is free and by appointment. I guess we never know when pieces of our journey in this world will intersect.
Hats off to the champions of the arts and the experiences they provide, which enrich our being! As Barbara Ess, the recently deceased photographer, was quoted in her obituary: “Take a picture of this meat, this husk. You don't have me. I am something that cannot be photographed, cannot be named, defined, translated. There's experience and that's all there is."