Second Story Books is pleased to present photographs taken by JERRY ARONSON between 1967 and 1996. Most of these photographs have never before been published. All are signed by Jerry and are part of limited edition runs of only six prints. Second Story Books and Jerry Aronson guarantee that no further copies of these photos at these sizes will be issued once these editions are sold.
Jerry started taking still photos in 1960 when, at the age of 15, he photographed President Eisenhower and Governor George Romney in Detroit, Michigan. In high school, he was the top winner of the National Kodak Scholastic Magazine awards. Later he studied under Aaron Siskind and Wynn Bullock at the Institute of Design in Chicago, where he received an MFA.
He began teaching photography at South Shore High School in Chicago in 1970 and by 1972 his students were also top winners of the same National Kodak Scholastic awards. He also began freelancing as a photographer for various concert promoters in Chicago. He subsequently moved to Colorado and established the Cherry Creek High School photo department, while continuing to freelance, now for Denver concert promoters. He also became the head photographer for the Rocky Mountain Musical Express. His still photographs cover a broad range of subjects in music and politics.
In the period following, he concentrated on filmmaking. His many works include the 1978 Academy Award-nominated film The Divided Trail, which is now part of the collection at the Library of Congress. He then directed the documentary series America's Music: The Roots of Country, released in 1996 for TBS. More recently, Jerry produced the documentary Chasing Ice, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 and won a national Emmy for Best Nature Programming in 2014.
Jerry’s documentary The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg had its world premiere at Sundance in 1993. The feature-length documentary had a US theatrical run and has since been exhibited at over 100 international film festivals and has also had a world-wide television and DVD release. The Ginsberg film won the prestigious International Documentary Association Award of Excellence in 1994. Jerry then edited a one-hour version for the PBS series “American Masters” which aired in 1997. The project was revised again after Ginsberg’s passing and the final cut was completed for the tribute DVD, which was released in 2007.
Jerry has taught in Chicago at Columbia College and at the University of Illinois. In 1973, he was instrumental in creating the highly respected film production program as part of Film Studies at the University of Colorado. In 2006, he won the University of Colorado Award for Teaching, and he retired from the University in 2008.
New York: late 1940’s to 1971.A collection of approximately 2,000 photographs and negatives, taken by amateur African-American photographer Malcolm Downes Thomas (c. 1900 - c. 1972) from the late 1940’s to 1971. Thomas photographed various aspects of New York City street and family scenes in both Manhattan and Harlem, Eastern Long Island landscapes and wildlife and a variety of images taken on various Caribbean islands. The collection also includes over a hundred original photographs and negatives of Bettie Page in a private session taken in 1952.
In its entirety, this collection represents a vision of nature, street scenes, human interest, and erotica as seen from the perspective of an affluent African-American. Thomas focused his photographs of human subjects on his fellow African-Americans, taking not only numerous study series of portraits but also spontaneous shots of everyday life. Children playing, people watching Television on the couch, and social gatherings are all represented. New York local events are recorded in this collection, including Wrestling Matches (3/29/53), a New York fire and efforts to extinguish it (1/7/53), African-American’s swimming in the ocean (1953), and outdoor Ice-Skating (12/51).
His cityscape work is not limited to either the narrow or the broad, allowing both views of facades and paint as well as skylines. The nature work follows a similar trend, with close-ups of grasshoppers, rabbits, flowers, and others, followed by islands and landscapes. His early travels included Mexico in 1951/52, St. Thomas in 1953, and Nassau in 1953 where he and his wife participated in various photographic contests and won awards or citations for specific images.
Fashion and erotica are represented as well. Thomas photographed an unknown African-American woman modelling various outfits in various poses (12/20/52). His erotica images include a private Bettie Page session dated 3/8/52 with over a hundred negatives and an unknown East-Asian woman photographed nude on at least three different occasions, 2/16/52, 12/18/53 and 12/19/53.
Thomas was a Navy radar installer and later a Master Electrician. In 1943 he married his third wife Velma Henry who was a registered nurse. Together they took up photography as a hobby, traveling frequently to the Caribbean and Mexico searching for photographic opportunities. They both preferred Leica cameras for their shots. Thomas developed his own work in their kitchen, some birds and flowers were done in color, the rest were black and white. They subsequently built a home in Quoque, Long Island for weekend trips and vacations. They had no children.
According to family lore, during the 1940’s Malcolm Thomas became a member of the Pioneer Photography Club, comprised of black friends. There is a story that one of the members (Jerry Tibbs) was on a New York beach and saw this beautiful woman (Bettie Mae Page) who agreed to pose for him and other members of the Pioneer Photography Club.
This story is similar to the one told by Bettie Page herself, that in 1950, while walking along the Coney Island shore, Bettie met NYPD officer Jerry Tibbs. Jerry was an avid photographer and gave Bettie his card. He suggested she’d make a good pin-up model, and in exchange for allowing him to photograph her, he’d help make up her first pin-up portfolio, free of charge. Tibbs introduced Page to other Harlem photographers like the legendary Jamaican nude photographer and jazz musician Cass Carr. Carr hired her as a model in 1952 for his nude “Camera Club Outings” in which amateur and professional cameramen would pay her ten dollars to pose. By 1955 Bettie Page had become the most photographed glamour model in the United States and was the January 1955 Playboy magazine Playmate of the Month
In addition to the photographic archive, the owner of the collection, Malcolm Thomas’ nephew Louis P. Brown, has created an uncorrected oblong folio proof copy of Malcom Thomas’ photographic works titled “Malcolm Thomas: Photographic Memoir” He is interested in assigning the proof and copyright to the publication of the book along with the copyright and physical images of the photographs as an entirety transaction.
Purchase of this collection includes all related rights.