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No.2 - After Frank

Matthew Volpe Erich DeLeeuw Andrew Savery-Whiteway


No.2 - After Frank

Matthew Volpe Erich DeLeeuw Andrew Savery-Whiteway


INDEX Pg.01..............................................................................................We’ll Be Back At Five Pg.05..................................................................................................................Part One Pg.52................................................................................A Discussion With Paul Roth Pg.119......................................................................Fountains Part One By Ben O’Neil Pg.129.................................................................................................................Part Two Pg.183.................................................................A Discussion With Maia-Mari Sutnik Pg.191..............................................................................Nine Hours In New York City Pg.209............................................................................Two Hours With Robert Frank Pg.227............................................................................................................After Frank


INDEX Pg.01..............................................................................................We’ll Be Back At Five Pg.05..................................................................................................................Part One Pg.52................................................................................A Discussion With Paul Roth Pg.119......................................................................Fountains Part One By Ben O’Neil Pg.129.................................................................................................................Part Two Pg.183.................................................................A Discussion With Maia-Mari Sutnik Pg.191..............................................................................Nine Hours In New York City Pg.209............................................................................Two Hours With Robert Frank Pg.227............................................................................................................After Frank


There are few opportunities in one’s life to do something truly unique. This book is about one of these opportunities. There are so many excuses we use to deny our curiosity and settle for something routine. This book contains no such excuses. After driving nearly 6,000 kilometers we were forced to accept our defeat and settle for the hand we were dealt. We had made it to Mabou, Nova Scotia, and back without meeting Robert Frank and for a brief instant that was ok with us. After a few days of contemplating what to do next we decided it would be foolish not to extend our trip south and see if we could find Robert and June in Manhattan – the next day our bus tickets were booked. 10 hours later As the bus barrelled through the Lincoln tunnel our stomachs started to drop. If we didn’t find them this time we would have failed twice and that isn’t very romantic. It was Halloween. After a quick stretch and a five-minute walk we entered the first coffee shop we could find to collect ourselves and double check the address – it was a Starbucks and the address was 7 Bleecker Street. Full of caffeine and questions for Robert, we started to walk from Hell’s Kitchen towards the Bowery.

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There are few opportunities in one’s life to do something truly unique. This book is about one of these opportunities. There are so many excuses we use to deny our curiosity and settle for something routine. This book contains no such excuses. After driving nearly 6,000 kilometers we were forced to accept our defeat and settle for the hand we were dealt. We had made it to Mabou, Nova Scotia, and back without meeting Robert Frank and for a brief instant that was ok with us. After a few days of contemplating what to do next we decided it would be foolish not to extend our trip south and see if we could find Robert and June in Manhattan – the next day our bus tickets were booked. 10 hours later As the bus barrelled through the Lincoln tunnel our stomachs started to drop. If we didn’t find them this time we would have failed twice and that isn’t very romantic. It was Halloween. After a quick stretch and a five-minute walk we entered the first coffee shop we could find to collect ourselves and double check the address – it was a Starbucks and the address was 7 Bleecker Street. Full of caffeine and questions for Robert, we started to walk from Hell’s Kitchen towards the Bowery.

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5 hours later With shaking hands and trembling voices, we rushed up to the door. June was visible, working in her studio, from the street. “That’s June Leaf.” They were in New York. Before we were even able to get the camera out and the microphone recording we had already pressed the buzzer. We stood at the door for what seemed like an eternity and finally June came out; we were standing at the wrong door. She said hello as we scurried over to where she was.

call back number at the end; all that was left was to order a pint and wait. 5 minutes later A missed call A voice mail It was Robert “...we will be back at 5pm, it would be nice to see you...”

“Hello – uh, we are students from Canada – uh – we traveled to Mabou and then came here, we were hoping...” she interjected. “Are you here to see Robert?” “Yes, um...” “He gets tired so it would be best if you gave us a call” “Ok sure, we are sorry – we didn’t want to be rude and just call or just show up, uh we hope...” we replied. “Don’t worry, do you have our number?” “Yes, we... We found it, we have it already” “Ok, just call” “Ok, have a nice day, thank you for your time” We walked across the street and sat down in a pub – none of us remember the name, the waitress was nice and she was dressed as a dead pop singer. After taking a moment to pull ourselves together we picked up the phone and let it ring – no answer. We fumbled through a lengthy voice-mail and left a

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5 hours later With shaking hands and trembling voices, we rushed up to the door. June was visible, working in her studio, from the street. “That’s June Leaf.” They were in New York. Before we were even able to get the camera out and the microphone recording we had already pressed the buzzer. We stood at the door for what seemed like an eternity and finally June came out; we were standing at the wrong door. She said hello as we scurried over to where she was.

call back number at the end; all that was left was to order a pint and wait. 5 minutes later A missed call A voice mail It was Robert “...we will be back at 5pm, it would be nice to see you...”

“Hello – uh, we are students from Canada – uh – we traveled to Mabou and then came here, we were hoping...” she interjected. “Are you here to see Robert?” “Yes, um...” “He gets tired so it would be best if you gave us a call” “Ok sure, we are sorry – we didn’t want to be rude and just call or just show up, uh we hope...” we replied. “Don’t worry, do you have our number?” “Yes, we... We found it, we have it already” “Ok, just call” “Ok, have a nice day, thank you for your time” We walked across the street and sat down in a pub – none of us remember the name, the waitress was nice and she was dressed as a dead pop singer. After taking a moment to pull ourselves together we picked up the phone and let it ring – no answer. We fumbled through a lengthy voice-mail and left a

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When speaking with Paul about Robert he had initially asked that we not use the interview publicly. He later changed his mind once we returned from New York.

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When speaking with Paul about Robert he had initially asked that we not use the interview publicly. He later changed his mind once we returned from New York.

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Paul Roth ...so I was just saying, I would like you to not use [the interview] publicly. The reason is that while I’m not close to Robert Frank anymore there was a time when I was his archivist, not working directly for him but working for the National Gallery of Art in Washington. For four and a half years my job was to organize Robert Frank’s archive and I learned about Robert doing that. One thing that Robert does not like is for people to be talking about him publicly. It’s not that he’s opposed to it or he would stop anybody from doing it but he just doesn’t like it. There’s a small circle of people who have worked with Robert over many many years who observed this. People speak freely like this, I can talk to you guys. Robert in general loves helping students, it’s very much in the spirit of working with Robert, but he chooses when to talk publicly and everybody else who’s in this small circle, they’re very careful about it.

DT You must have gotten to know Robert extremely well from spending so much time with him. PR There’s a little circle of Robert Frank devotees and people that have studied him a lot. We all keep in contact. Stuart Alexander, who works at Christie’s, knows more about Robert than anybody alive. I’m probably number two, maybe number three because it’s been so long. All I did for four and a half years was work [with] Robert so I learned a lot about him and I’ve now forgotten a lot about him. I’m still very fond of him; he means a lot to me. [Robert] likes that I don’t ever call him or bother him, but it depends. The last time I saw him he was in a great mood and much more open than I remember him being. People were speculating, maybe he’s just happier now; maybe he’s more accepting of his fame.

DAYTRIP How do you know Robert Frank? PR In 1991 I was hired by the National Gallery of Art in Washington to organize Robert’s archive. It consisted of his negatives, his work prints, many of his fine prints, [and] some correspondence. Some of [the archive] was already at the National Gallery when they hired me but a lot of it was still with Robert, so during the first year I went to his place a few times to get some of the stuff that [the National Gallery] didn’t have yet. I got to know Robert by staying with him on Bleecker St. in New York where he lives. When I got hired for the job I was excited, as you can imagine. [Working with Robert is] the dream job of a lifetime. I went to New York a few times in my first year. I would stay in a bedroom on the second floor of his warehouse – which is a kind of converted SRO (which is basically slum housing). That area of the Bowery, when Robert bought the place, was a slum area. Back then CBGB’s was right around the corner. A lot of people don’t know this but [Robert] would sometimes hang out outside CBGB’s when the Ramones were playing. Anyways, it was a really rough area and Robert liked that; he’s a real bohemian. It was very exciting being in that environment with him. His apartment was totally fucked up; he had barely converted it. I was taking a shower in a kind of raised concrete area with this rusty pipe that water just poured out of and sleeping on a badly stained foam slab that [Robert] had dragged out of an alley and put on top of this old kids’ bed that had drawers underneath it. One time I checked the drawers and there were first editions of The Americans inside.

DT Robert is notorious for not handling his fame well. Did you find that to be true? PR When I knew [Robert] he didn’t like being asked certain questions at all; questions he thought were stupid – about how famous he is. He would get really upset, he just didn’t like being treated that way. But more recently I saw [Robert] very open about questions like that. He was republishing The Americans with Steidl. There was a book launch on the 50th anniversary of The Americans at The Lincoln Centre [in New York City]. Robert was on stage with some weirdo asking him questions and he was really open. People would ask questions that used to make him glare silent anger daggers and he was totally open about it. It was really startling and kind of wonderful. I think a lot of people who know Robert felt that maybe he was more at peace now with his reputation and his fame. But more recently than that even – within a year or so – people have been whispering: “Oh Robert’s in a shitty mood now”. So I don’t know. DT How do you think he will react to us showing up at his doorstep in Mabou? PR I have never done that and I wouldn’t ever do that. But I have to tell you you’re not the first people to do it, and there have been times when Robert reportedly [says]: “yeah come on in”. It happens. There are also times when Robert opens the door and [says]: “get out of here”, so I have no idea what you guys will encounter. That’s partly why I don’t stay in touch with him. 55


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Paul Roth ...so I was just saying, I would like you to not use [the interview] publicly. The reason is that while I’m not close to Robert Frank anymore there was a time when I was his archivist, not working directly for him but working for the National Gallery of Art in Washington. For four and a half years my job was to organize Robert Frank’s archive and I learned about Robert doing that. One thing that Robert does not like is for people to be talking about him publicly. It’s not that he’s opposed to it or he would stop anybody from doing it but he just doesn’t like it. There’s a small circle of people who have worked with Robert over many many years who observed this. People speak freely like this, I can talk to you guys. Robert in general loves helping students, it’s very much in the spirit of working with Robert, but he chooses when to talk publicly and everybody else who’s in this small circle, they’re very careful about it.

DT You must have gotten to know Robert extremely well from spending so much time with him. PR There’s a little circle of Robert Frank devotees and people that have studied him a lot. We all keep in contact. Stuart Alexander, who works at Christie’s, knows more about Robert than anybody alive. I’m probably number two, maybe number three because it’s been so long. All I did for four and a half years was work [with] Robert so I learned a lot about him and I’ve now forgotten a lot about him. I’m still very fond of him; he means a lot to me. [Robert] likes that I don’t ever call him or bother him, but it depends. The last time I saw him he was in a great mood and much more open than I remember him being. People were speculating, maybe he’s just happier now; maybe he’s more accepting of his fame.

DAYTRIP How do you know Robert Frank? PR In 1991 I was hired by the National Gallery of Art in Washington to organize Robert’s archive. It consisted of his negatives, his work prints, many of his fine prints, [and] some correspondence. Some of [the archive] was already at the National Gallery when they hired me but a lot of it was still with Robert, so during the first year I went to his place a few times to get some of the stuff that [the National Gallery] didn’t have yet. I got to know Robert by staying with him on Bleecker St. in New York where he lives. When I got hired for the job I was excited, as you can imagine. [Working with Robert is] the dream job of a lifetime. I went to New York a few times in my first year. I would stay in a bedroom on the second floor of his warehouse – which is a kind of converted SRO (which is basically slum housing). That area of the Bowery, when Robert bought the place, was a slum area. Back then CBGB’s was right around the corner. A lot of people don’t know this but [Robert] would sometimes hang out outside CBGB’s when the Ramones were playing. Anyways, it was a really rough area and Robert liked that; he’s a real bohemian. It was very exciting being in that environment with him. His apartment was totally fucked up; he had barely converted it. I was taking a shower in a kind of raised concrete area with this rusty pipe that water just poured out of and sleeping on a badly stained foam slab that [Robert] had dragged out of an alley and put on top of this old kids’ bed that had drawers underneath it. One time I checked the drawers and there were first editions of The Americans inside.

DT Robert is notorious for not handling his fame well. Did you find that to be true? PR When I knew [Robert] he didn’t like being asked certain questions at all; questions he thought were stupid – about how famous he is. He would get really upset, he just didn’t like being treated that way. But more recently I saw [Robert] very open about questions like that. He was republishing The Americans with Steidl. There was a book launch on the 50th anniversary of The Americans at The Lincoln Centre [in New York City]. Robert was on stage with some weirdo asking him questions and he was really open. People would ask questions that used to make him glare silent anger daggers and he was totally open about it. It was really startling and kind of wonderful. I think a lot of people who know Robert felt that maybe he was more at peace now with his reputation and his fame. But more recently than that even – within a year or so – people have been whispering: “Oh Robert’s in a shitty mood now”. So I don’t know. DT How do you think he will react to us showing up at his doorstep in Mabou? PR I have never done that and I wouldn’t ever do that. But I have to tell you you’re not the first people to do it, and there have been times when Robert reportedly [says]: “yeah come on in”. It happens. There are also times when Robert opens the door and [says]: “get out of here”, so I have no idea what you guys will encounter. That’s partly why I don’t stay in touch with him. 55


I think Robert doesn’t need more people like me hanging around him and he doesn’t really like that. He typically, to my knowledge, kind of likes students and he likes interesting projects. Robert can be very cool but he’s not into bullshit. DT What correspondence did you have to work with when you were organizing Robert’s archive? PR Correspondence was pretty tricky with Robert. He didn’t want to give a lot of it up; it’s his stuff. Since I left he may have sent more correspondence to them for safe keeping or storage, but at that time he was really careful and he only wanted to give us correspondence like the letter he wrote to Jack Kerouac asking him to write the introduction to The Americans and Jack writing back. He was very careful, and we of course were trying to get him to give anything and everything. We would start by asking: “we’d be interested in all your correspondence with Glamour Magazine when you were an assignment photographer”, and he’d say: “I’m thinking of throwing that away”. Then I would ask for very specific things, like the letter that [Robert] wrote with [his] application to the Guggenheim foundation. [He’d say]: “oh well I think that might be over here”, and he’d go and get it. He was nervous about it; it’s his stuff, it’s his life. He didn’t really want people poking around in his stuff and his life but he also knew that was part of the deal. DT It sounds like Robert tried to maintain a type of control over his public perception... PR My experience is that there wasn’t really anything that unusual about Robert as a control freak. He was not remotely as controlling as Richard Avedon who I also worked on. Robert could be very free with his copyright but he also had his limits. The rock star Don Henley from The Eagles, at one point, shot a video directed by David Fincher called “The End of the Innocence”. Almost every shot in it is stolen right from The Americans. Robert, at the time, got them to cease and desist and not show it on MTV anymore. He would care about infringements that were commercial and willful, but if a kid wrote to him and said: “I’m publishing my thesis about your work, can I use your photos?”, he would say [yes]. If he liked the person, or if he thought that they were engaged in a good project he was more likely to say yes. If the person rubbed him the wrong way for whatever reason, [he would say] no. 56

DT What are your thoughts on Cocksucker Blues? PR [Robert] won’t talk about it. I asked him one time about the disagreement with the Rolling Stones and he said: “they don’t want me to show it”. That’s it. There have been stories published that say that [the Rolling Stones] felt like it didn’t do enough to promote them, but everybody I know who knows [Robert] well thinks that the answer is that [Cocksucker Blues] makes it look like the worst thing in the world to be in a rock and roll band; it’s depressing, it’s alienating, it’s enervating, you’re dealing with insipid people, you’re so bored that you have to take drugs, you end up in terrible situations where you’re basically playing black blues and you almost never get to interact with anybody who plays black blues or who is black and who’s actually lived those lives. In a lot of ways the movie, to Robert, is really about his sound man; a guy named Danny Seymour. Danny’s life was destroyed by being on that tour. He was shooting a lot of drugs and then afterward he bought a boat and went sailing to try to do a drug deal and he got killed. When Robert was editing [the film] he was thinking about Danny and how his life had been destroyed. The Rolling Stones probably thought: “this is so depressing, we want a movie that celebrates us”. So lawyers got involved and they moved on. [Robert] was able to carve out a deal which was ok for him. The deal as I understand it, was one [screening] a year and Robert had to be there. After a while he got tired of showing it and he turned it over to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. DT Do you know why he left New York for Nova Scotia? PR Robert was really cryptic whenever he talked about stuff like that. He made a photograph called: “Goodbye Mr. Brodovitch I’m Leaving New York, December 23rd, 1971 OK?”, which is a very grandiose gesture. One thing I think that is true about Robert is that on one hand [Robert is] the most casual and unaffected of people and on the other hand he’s the most ambitious, thoughtful and clever [of people]. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Did he know that he was disappearing into the wilderness and becoming a mysterious figure who left? No, I don’t think so, but I do think that he thought: “I have to get out of New York – this is major – I’m leaving New York”. So why Nova Scotia? I don’t really know. I think that he had this romantic idea of moving out to the middle of nowhere. There were a lot of artists that were moving out there at the time; Philip Glass, JoAnne Akalaitis, Richard Serra, these people were all moving out there. 57


I think Robert doesn’t need more people like me hanging around him and he doesn’t really like that. He typically, to my knowledge, kind of likes students and he likes interesting projects. Robert can be very cool but he’s not into bullshit. DT What correspondence did you have to work with when you were organizing Robert’s archive? PR Correspondence was pretty tricky with Robert. He didn’t want to give a lot of it up; it’s his stuff. Since I left he may have sent more correspondence to them for safe keeping or storage, but at that time he was really careful and he only wanted to give us correspondence like the letter he wrote to Jack Kerouac asking him to write the introduction to The Americans and Jack writing back. He was very careful, and we of course were trying to get him to give anything and everything. We would start by asking: “we’d be interested in all your correspondence with Glamour Magazine when you were an assignment photographer”, and he’d say: “I’m thinking of throwing that away”. Then I would ask for very specific things, like the letter that [Robert] wrote with [his] application to the Guggenheim foundation. [He’d say]: “oh well I think that might be over here”, and he’d go and get it. He was nervous about it; it’s his stuff, it’s his life. He didn’t really want people poking around in his stuff and his life but he also knew that was part of the deal. DT It sounds like Robert tried to maintain a type of control over his public perception... PR My experience is that there wasn’t really anything that unusual about Robert as a control freak. He was not remotely as controlling as Richard Avedon who I also worked on. Robert could be very free with his copyright but he also had his limits. The rock star Don Henley from The Eagles, at one point, shot a video directed by David Fincher called “The End of the Innocence”. Almost every shot in it is stolen right from The Americans. Robert, at the time, got them to cease and desist and not show it on MTV anymore. He would care about infringements that were commercial and willful, but if a kid wrote to him and said: “I’m publishing my thesis about your work, can I use your photos?”, he would say [yes]. If he liked the person, or if he thought that they were engaged in a good project he was more likely to say yes. If the person rubbed him the wrong way for whatever reason, [he would say] no. 56

DT What are your thoughts on Cocksucker Blues? PR [Robert] won’t talk about it. I asked him one time about the disagreement with the Rolling Stones and he said: “they don’t want me to show it”. That’s it. There have been stories published that say that [the Rolling Stones] felt like it didn’t do enough to promote them, but everybody I know who knows [Robert] well thinks that the answer is that [Cocksucker Blues] makes it look like the worst thing in the world to be in a rock and roll band; it’s depressing, it’s alienating, it’s enervating, you’re dealing with insipid people, you’re so bored that you have to take drugs, you end up in terrible situations where you’re basically playing black blues and you almost never get to interact with anybody who plays black blues or who is black and who’s actually lived those lives. In a lot of ways the movie, to Robert, is really about his sound man; a guy named Danny Seymour. Danny’s life was destroyed by being on that tour. He was shooting a lot of drugs and then afterward he bought a boat and went sailing to try to do a drug deal and he got killed. When Robert was editing [the film] he was thinking about Danny and how his life had been destroyed. The Rolling Stones probably thought: “this is so depressing, we want a movie that celebrates us”. So lawyers got involved and they moved on. [Robert] was able to carve out a deal which was ok for him. The deal as I understand it, was one [screening] a year and Robert had to be there. After a while he got tired of showing it and he turned it over to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. DT Do you know why he left New York for Nova Scotia? PR Robert was really cryptic whenever he talked about stuff like that. He made a photograph called: “Goodbye Mr. Brodovitch I’m Leaving New York, December 23rd, 1971 OK?”, which is a very grandiose gesture. One thing I think that is true about Robert is that on one hand [Robert is] the most casual and unaffected of people and on the other hand he’s the most ambitious, thoughtful and clever [of people]. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Did he know that he was disappearing into the wilderness and becoming a mysterious figure who left? No, I don’t think so, but I do think that he thought: “I have to get out of New York – this is major – I’m leaving New York”. So why Nova Scotia? I don’t really know. I think that he had this romantic idea of moving out to the middle of nowhere. There were a lot of artists that were moving out there at the time; Philip Glass, JoAnne Akalaitis, Richard Serra, these people were all moving out there. 57


My guess is that his wife June Leaf knew about it. I think that right away they loved it. They loved the people they met; they made a lot of friends really quickly in that community. Robert shot a film out there with some of the members of the Mabou Mines Theatre Company, so he actually contributed to the artistic community there in the first few years. I think he loved it [in Mabou] and that’s why he stayed.

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My guess is that his wife June Leaf knew about it. I think that right away they loved it. They loved the people they met; they made a lot of friends really quickly in that community. Robert shot a film out there with some of the members of the Mabou Mines Theatre Company, so he actually contributed to the artistic community there in the first few years. I think he loved it [in Mabou] and that’s why he stayed.

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...when he says “I continue to look and search for an image that comes close to truth, it is my choice, it is my fate and I continue”, you know what? It is beautiful, but it is enigmatic. He just says: “I’m looking, I’m searching, it will come to me and then when it’s there I find it”

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...when he says “I continue to look and search for an image that comes close to truth, it is my choice, it is my fate and I continue”, you know what? It is beautiful, but it is enigmatic. He just says: “I’m looking, I’m searching, it will come to me and then when it’s there I find it”

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DAYTRIP: How do you know Robert Frank? Maia: Well first of all I would say, [can] you really know Robert? I think that he is an enigma in many ways - but my interest in Robert goes back [about] 45 years. I was working here at the AGO and was trying to promote photography as becoming integral to our programs. It occurred to me that Robert Frank had [recently] moved to Mabou, Nova Scotia, and I knew that the National Film Board had acquired some of Roberts photographs. I thought it would be prudent to ask whether I could borrow those photographs for an exhibition and they said yes; all I needed was permission from Robert. At the time he said I could only exhibit his work [from] The Americans if I showed his most recent work too. In the title of [the show] we made it clear there would be [some of] his most recent works; everyone knew The Americans but his recent work wasn’t as well known. [The show] constituted primarily of a body of work he had done with this idea from one image in particular “Sick of Goodby’s”, which was very powerful and very strong. So that’s how we met. DT: How would you describe the arc of Robert Frank’s career? M: Well he is a legend today. When you are dealing with a career that long I think the artist always sums it up better than anyone observing it. I was writing an article about him – for a book that he made some very caustic remarks about but nevertheless agreed to be a part of – I wanted to write about the image of the tuba player from The Americans and he said “…enough with The Americans, I have done other things”. I think The Americans was initially rejected because it didn’t represent the golden age of America; the way America perceived itself. What he was really doing was looking into a substructure through his travels. Through his point of view, it was actually a very loving portrait of America. He wasn’t criticizing but it was perceived to be something that didn’t represent America in its best light. No one wanted to publish his book at the time and so he went to Delpire in Paris. It was a breakthrough, not only in terms of Frank being recognized here, but it changed the way photographers began looking at the world. [Robert] has a very healthy respect for Walker Evans who also worked very differently but they had the same sensibility to go beneath the social glimmer and pull out the essence.

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DT: Do you think Walker Evans had a profound impact on Robert? M: Well, [Walker] supported [Robert] with his Guggenheim applications and so there was a tremendous respect between two photographers. [They both] had a very different approach in how they viewed the world and at the same time they were both incredible at getting to the subject and truly connecting with the audience. When you look at people like [Lee] Friedlander and [Gary] Winogrand, I don’t know whether they would have happened if it hadn’t been for Robert. Robert on the other end was an enigma - [sic.] He made statements and you can read statements in “The Lines of My Hand” when he says “I continue to look and search for an image that comes close to truth, it is my choice, it is my fate and I continue”, you know what? It is beautiful, but it is enigmatic. He just says: “I’m looking, I’m searching, it will come to me and then when it’s there I find it”. DT: What are some of your favorite works by Robert in the AGO’s collection? M: The work by Robert of the artist Franz Kline who he used to hang around with in New York. He was very much a part of the group of Abstract Expressionist painters so this [particular] image from 1956 is in Franz Kline’s studio and I love this picture because it has this strange grittiness to it and yet a soft touch. It has what we would consider “bohemian life elements” [in] it, besides the fact that Franz Kline is a superb painter. We [also] have a wonderful photograph that he did in honour of his daughter, who perished in an airplane crash. It combines a huge eye with pictures of Mabou. The image is a kind of collage which makes it very different from his work in The Americans. [This picture] is profoundly well thought out in terms of print quality. It is much larger than most of his other work but it is so personal and that is the beauty of that image; it is a statement about his life and he puts his life into these pictures. His later work has so much to do with what he calls: “the lines of my hand”. It’s amazing how [Robert] is so resilient in spite of all the tragedies that have happened.

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DAYTRIP: How do you know Robert Frank? Maia: Well first of all I would say, [can] you really know Robert? I think that he is an enigma in many ways - but my interest in Robert goes back [about] 45 years. I was working here at the AGO and was trying to promote photography as becoming integral to our programs. It occurred to me that Robert Frank had [recently] moved to Mabou, Nova Scotia, and I knew that the National Film Board had acquired some of Roberts photographs. I thought it would be prudent to ask whether I could borrow those photographs for an exhibition and they said yes; all I needed was permission from Robert. At the time he said I could only exhibit his work [from] The Americans if I showed his most recent work too. In the title of [the show] we made it clear there would be [some of] his most recent works; everyone knew The Americans but his recent work wasn’t as well known. [The show] constituted primarily of a body of work he had done with this idea from one image in particular “Sick of Goodby’s”, which was very powerful and very strong. So that’s how we met. DT: How would you describe the arc of Robert Frank’s career? M: Well he is a legend today. When you are dealing with a career that long I think the artist always sums it up better than anyone observing it. I was writing an article about him – for a book that he made some very caustic remarks about but nevertheless agreed to be a part of – I wanted to write about the image of the tuba player from The Americans and he said “…enough with The Americans, I have done other things”. I think The Americans was initially rejected because it didn’t represent the golden age of America; the way America perceived itself. What he was really doing was looking into a substructure through his travels. Through his point of view, it was actually a very loving portrait of America. He wasn’t criticizing but it was perceived to be something that didn’t represent America in its best light. No one wanted to publish his book at the time and so he went to Delpire in Paris. It was a breakthrough, not only in terms of Frank being recognized here, but it changed the way photographers began looking at the world. [Robert] has a very healthy respect for Walker Evans who also worked very differently but they had the same sensibility to go beneath the social glimmer and pull out the essence.

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DT: Do you think Walker Evans had a profound impact on Robert? M: Well, [Walker] supported [Robert] with his Guggenheim applications and so there was a tremendous respect between two photographers. [They both] had a very different approach in how they viewed the world and at the same time they were both incredible at getting to the subject and truly connecting with the audience. When you look at people like [Lee] Friedlander and [Gary] Winogrand, I don’t know whether they would have happened if it hadn’t been for Robert. Robert on the other end was an enigma - [sic.] He made statements and you can read statements in “The Lines of My Hand” when he says “I continue to look and search for an image that comes close to truth, it is my choice, it is my fate and I continue”, you know what? It is beautiful, but it is enigmatic. He just says: “I’m looking, I’m searching, it will come to me and then when it’s there I find it”. DT: What are some of your favorite works by Robert in the AGO’s collection? M: The work by Robert of the artist Franz Kline who he used to hang around with in New York. He was very much a part of the group of Abstract Expressionist painters so this [particular] image from 1956 is in Franz Kline’s studio and I love this picture because it has this strange grittiness to it and yet a soft touch. It has what we would consider “bohemian life elements” [in] it, besides the fact that Franz Kline is a superb painter. We [also] have a wonderful photograph that he did in honour of his daughter, who perished in an airplane crash. It combines a huge eye with pictures of Mabou. The image is a kind of collage which makes it very different from his work in The Americans. [This picture] is profoundly well thought out in terms of print quality. It is much larger than most of his other work but it is so personal and that is the beauty of that image; it is a statement about his life and he puts his life into these pictures. His later work has so much to do with what he calls: “the lines of my hand”. It’s amazing how [Robert] is so resilient in spite of all the tragedies that have happened.

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DT: Do you have any other favourites in his body of work? M: Well I am fond of a very controversial film of his, Cocksucker Blues… I really enjoy the cover he did for [The Rolling Stones’] record as well. And I do actually like his colour work, because for its time I think he was pushing the boundaries of how you read images. It was casual but he gave an interesting formal structure to them. Those images are actually quite engaging even though he might not be that fond of them. That is why we have some of his colour work in the AGO’s collection!

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DT: Do you have any other favourites in his body of work? M: Well I am fond of a very controversial film of his, Cocksucker Blues… I really enjoy the cover he did for [The Rolling Stones’] record as well. And I do actually like his colour work, because for its time I think he was pushing the boundaries of how you read images. It was casual but he gave an interesting formal structure to them. Those images are actually quite engaging even though he might not be that fond of them. That is why we have some of his colour work in the AGO’s collection!

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We travelled from Toronto to Nova Scotia and back, then took an overnight bus to New York City. After knocking on Mr. Frank and Mrs. Leaf’s door in two different countries we finally spent a few hours with them.

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We travelled from Toronto to Nova Scotia and back, then took an overnight bus to New York City. After knocking on Mr. Frank and Mrs. Leaf’s door in two different countries we finally spent a few hours with them.

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DT: We have a few questions if that’s okay? Robert: I’m here DT: What was your first experience with photography? Robert: Well we lived in a house with three floors and on the top floor was an older man and he was a retoucher of photographs. He was a very nice man; very understanding. I didn’t really know what I was doing – I was 17 or 18 [at the time]. I said to my father, “all I want to do is see the old man on the

He was a man that I admired for his work. We became friends. I thought he was a difficult man, but I learned a lot from him – how he’d look at something, photograph it: it was very good to know him. top and talk to him” and he said that’s okay, and it was good. I worked there as an apprentice for maybe six months or longer and it was a nice time. He taught me a lot. He airbrushed for portraits, clouds... It was a long time ago. That was my beginning with photography, really. DT: And were you working more as an assistant or watching what he was doing? Robert: Yes I was watching what he was doing. He taught me how [to retouch] and

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things like that. It was just more to find out what I wanted to do really. Then I started to photograph more on my own. DT: Do you remember what the first type of camera you had was? Robert: It probably must have been a Rolleiflex, you know the square format, then I changed to small format Leica. DT: Why did you end up in Mabou? Robert: Well, [June and I] wanted to get away from New York, and you know Canada is a good country to make space between New York, so we found Mabou. It was just luck to find a house for sale there that was normal and quiet; it was Canadian. DT: What are your feelings on the two countries? Robert: Well I mean the fact that we went to Canada to look for a place... The pressure in New York over the years gets to be too much in a way, so you want to get away. It was a good idea to move to Canada.

moved or did you do that after? Robert: I’m not sure, I think the teaching was first, that was a good way to get over there and then we got kinda settled so it all worked out very well.

said “this is your only chance, so watch it now.” Robert: Teaching can be very boring, you know. I think [it is important] to do something with the students.

DT: Did teaching help you transition into Canada? Robert: It took some time – a couple of years – but it was a good beginning. Teaching in Canada gave [June and I] a different status, so it was easier.

DT: After moving from Switzerland to New York, and from New York to Mabou, where do you call home now? Robert: Well, it’s still more in New York because we’re spending more time here. When we go to Mabou it’s almost more of a vacation. Also it gets very cold there. We spent two or three winters there and it’s too cold. Now we come [back to New York]. So we keep this place [in New York] it’s really nice to be in Canada because it is a relief from being in New York [with] all the people. It was good there for my wife, she is a painter. It was wonderful to find a place there. You went there?

DT: Some of the professors at NSCAD actually just found the film you produced with some of your students. Robert: Oh, yeah. DT: It was wild - it had us talking up until a few days ago. We only had the chance to watch it once while we were waiting to speak with someone. They put it on and

DT: So it was a sort of escape? Robert: More peaceful, yeah, and it worked out alright. We found a good place there, you know, overlooking the sea. DT: Did you teach at NSCAD before you

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DT: We have a few questions if that’s okay? Robert: I’m here DT: What was your first experience with photography? Robert: Well we lived in a house with three floors and on the top floor was an older man and he was a retoucher of photographs. He was a very nice man; very understanding. I didn’t really know what I was doing – I was 17 or 18 [at the time]. I said to my father, “all I want to do is see the old man on the

He was a man that I admired for his work. We became friends. I thought he was a difficult man, but I learned a lot from him – how he’d look at something, photograph it: it was very good to know him. top and talk to him” and he said that’s okay, and it was good. I worked there as an apprentice for maybe six months or longer and it was a nice time. He taught me a lot. He airbrushed for portraits, clouds... It was a long time ago. That was my beginning with photography, really. DT: And were you working more as an assistant or watching what he was doing? Robert: Yes I was watching what he was doing. He taught me how [to retouch] and

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things like that. It was just more to find out what I wanted to do really. Then I started to photograph more on my own. DT: Do you remember what the first type of camera you had was? Robert: It probably must have been a Rolleiflex, you know the square format, then I changed to small format Leica. DT: Why did you end up in Mabou? Robert: Well, [June and I] wanted to get away from New York, and you know Canada is a good country to make space between New York, so we found Mabou. It was just luck to find a house for sale there that was normal and quiet; it was Canadian. DT: What are your feelings on the two countries? Robert: Well I mean the fact that we went to Canada to look for a place... The pressure in New York over the years gets to be too much in a way, so you want to get away. It was a good idea to move to Canada.

moved or did you do that after? Robert: I’m not sure, I think the teaching was first, that was a good way to get over there and then we got kinda settled so it all worked out very well.

said “this is your only chance, so watch it now.” Robert: Teaching can be very boring, you know. I think [it is important] to do something with the students.

DT: Did teaching help you transition into Canada? Robert: It took some time – a couple of years – but it was a good beginning. Teaching in Canada gave [June and I] a different status, so it was easier.

DT: After moving from Switzerland to New York, and from New York to Mabou, where do you call home now? Robert: Well, it’s still more in New York because we’re spending more time here. When we go to Mabou it’s almost more of a vacation. Also it gets very cold there. We spent two or three winters there and it’s too cold. Now we come [back to New York]. So we keep this place [in New York] it’s really nice to be in Canada because it is a relief from being in New York [with] all the people. It was good there for my wife, she is a painter. It was wonderful to find a place there. You went there?

DT: Some of the professors at NSCAD actually just found the film you produced with some of your students. Robert: Oh, yeah. DT: It was wild - it had us talking up until a few days ago. We only had the chance to watch it once while we were waiting to speak with someone. They put it on and

DT: So it was a sort of escape? Robert: More peaceful, yeah, and it worked out alright. We found a good place there, you know, overlooking the sea. DT: Did you teach at NSCAD before you

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DT: Yeah! It was so beautiful Robert: You can’t find a better place. It’s unchanged since we’ve been there. It’s always good there, except when it’s cold. DT: Do you only go for the spring and summer now? Robert: Just the summer really because it’s too cold for me now. We go there pretty much every summer and stay until it’s cold. The winter there is very good too; it’s very different.

Robert: Well, it’s very good to have her... yeah, it would be hard for me to look after her. DT: What is it like working with Gerhard Steidl? Robert: Well that’s the guy – Steidl. He’s the guy who wants to do [work], and does it whenever he can. He’s a good man. He is always looking for new ways of showing things.

DT: And you just trust him with your work? Robert: Whatever he wants to do, I cooperate with him. He works mostly alone and does these things alone. When he needs my help, or my work, I work with him because he’s a good man. DT: Are you doing any work independently now? Robert: I always did [my work] independently, I

mean I didn’t really work for anybody. I had more connections but usually I just do what what I feel like doing - [usually about] how it feels to be in a place. DT: Are you working on anything new at the moment? Robert: No, No... DT: When you were shooting The Americans, your family came to

DT: The people that we met along the way were so lovely, we met one of your neighbours - her name was Suzanne – she just lives up the street a little bit Robert: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah I don’t see her too much. DT: What is the influence that June has had on your life since you’ve been together? Robert: Well, if you’re married to a woman and you live [together] the influence is many folds. I have a lot of respect [for June]. You know how painters work; continuing, and continuing to believe in [their work]. She’s a very good wife and we’re very compatible. It’s nice to find a house there and here so life is spent arranging it, finding the right pieces, and living. DT: Do you look after her, or does she look after you?

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DT: Yeah! It was so beautiful Robert: You can’t find a better place. It’s unchanged since we’ve been there. It’s always good there, except when it’s cold. DT: Do you only go for the spring and summer now? Robert: Just the summer really because it’s too cold for me now. We go there pretty much every summer and stay until it’s cold. The winter there is very good too; it’s very different.

Robert: Well, it’s very good to have her... yeah, it would be hard for me to look after her. DT: What is it like working with Gerhard Steidl? Robert: Well that’s the guy – Steidl. He’s the guy who wants to do [work], and does it whenever he can. He’s a good man. He is always looking for new ways of showing things.

DT: And you just trust him with your work? Robert: Whatever he wants to do, I cooperate with him. He works mostly alone and does these things alone. When he needs my help, or my work, I work with him because he’s a good man. DT: Are you doing any work independently now? Robert: I always did [my work] independently, I

mean I didn’t really work for anybody. I had more connections but usually I just do what what I feel like doing - [usually about] how it feels to be in a place. DT: Are you working on anything new at the moment? Robert: No, No... DT: When you were shooting The Americans, your family came to

DT: The people that we met along the way were so lovely, we met one of your neighbours - her name was Suzanne – she just lives up the street a little bit Robert: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah I don’t see her too much. DT: What is the influence that June has had on your life since you’ve been together? Robert: Well, if you’re married to a woman and you live [together] the influence is many folds. I have a lot of respect [for June]. You know how painters work; continuing, and continuing to believe in [their work]. She’s a very good wife and we’re very compatible. It’s nice to find a house there and here so life is spent arranging it, finding the right pieces, and living. DT: Do you look after her, or does she look after you?

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meet you on the road. Do you prefer to work alone or with others? Robert: I prefer to be alone. [It’s] too hard to have the wife and baby – or whatever child. It’s hard to focus [on working].

DT: We saw a photo of you driving it! You were in the driver’s seat. Robert: Ah, yeah. He was very good. I don’t think he was such a good teacher, but for me he was.

DT: What advice would you give to any young artists following in your footsteps or trying to pursue art right now? Robert: I don’t want to do teaching anymore.

DT: Well if you could just watch he didn’t necessarily need to show you anything Robert: Yes, the way he looked at things [was] so clear. He taught [for] a long time and I knew him until the end of his life, when he taught at Yale. I didn’t want to be a teacher like that.

DT: No more advice? Robert: No. It’s alright when you’re younger and have more energy; I wouldn’t have the energy to teach now. DT: Can you recall how Walker Evans helped to shape your career or what his influence was on you? Robert: He was a man that I admired for his work. We became friends. I thought he was a difficult man, but I learned a lot from him – how he’d look at something, photograph it: it was very good to know him. DT: Was he more of a mentor? Robert: Yeah. I mean, [he] was very good to me. [I got] to learn what it is to be a photographer, really. The way he would photograph something straight on; he really took care of it. It seems to be a simple thing to learn, but unless you see someone do it you don’t see what goes into it; you have to have patience. He taught me a lot. DT: Where did you meet? Robert: We met in New York. Someone said he might need some help, that’s how it came about. So we became friends... He had a big car and, he’d like to [take me] somewhere and he [would say]: “Now you take the car and you put it away far from here and don’t watch me” Because he had a big car always a convertible... 218

DT: Did you enjoy elements of being a teacher? Robert: Well, sometimes the contact with younger people was very good. [It’s] positive. It’s not downward train. So that was very good, but otherwise I thought it took a lot of time and I wanted to do my work. I was better off not to teach in order to make a living so I didn’t do it for too long. DT: Did you take any influence from the students that you were working with? Robert: It’s often very good to see how people work. You do your own work and you often concentrate on that so sometimes it’s very good to have contact with young people. They influence you to be more free. DT: Black and White or Color? Robert: The work was almost all the time black and white. DT: So the colour work was more experimental? Robert: Well I didn’t want to get into color, just black and white. That was enough for me. I saw everything as black and white.

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meet you on the road. Do you prefer to work alone or with others? Robert: I prefer to be alone. [It’s] too hard to have the wife and baby – or whatever child. It’s hard to focus [on working].

DT: We saw a photo of you driving it! You were in the driver’s seat. Robert: Ah, yeah. He was very good. I don’t think he was such a good teacher, but for me he was.

DT: What advice would you give to any young artists following in your footsteps or trying to pursue art right now? Robert: I don’t want to do teaching anymore.

DT: Well if you could just watch he didn’t necessarily need to show you anything Robert: Yes, the way he looked at things [was] so clear. He taught [for] a long time and I knew him until the end of his life, when he taught at Yale. I didn’t want to be a teacher like that.

DT: No more advice? Robert: No. It’s alright when you’re younger and have more energy; I wouldn’t have the energy to teach now. DT: Can you recall how Walker Evans helped to shape your career or what his influence was on you? Robert: He was a man that I admired for his work. We became friends. I thought he was a difficult man, but I learned a lot from him – how he’d look at something, photograph it: it was very good to know him. DT: Was he more of a mentor? Robert: Yeah. I mean, [he] was very good to me. [I got] to learn what it is to be a photographer, really. The way he would photograph something straight on; he really took care of it. It seems to be a simple thing to learn, but unless you see someone do it you don’t see what goes into it; you have to have patience. He taught me a lot. DT: Where did you meet? Robert: We met in New York. Someone said he might need some help, that’s how it came about. So we became friends... He had a big car and, he’d like to [take me] somewhere and he [would say]: “Now you take the car and you put it away far from here and don’t watch me” Because he had a big car always a convertible... 218

DT: Did you enjoy elements of being a teacher? Robert: Well, sometimes the contact with younger people was very good. [It’s] positive. It’s not downward train. So that was very good, but otherwise I thought it took a lot of time and I wanted to do my work. I was better off not to teach in order to make a living so I didn’t do it for too long. DT: Did you take any influence from the students that you were working with? Robert: It’s often very good to see how people work. You do your own work and you often concentrate on that so sometimes it’s very good to have contact with young people. They influence you to be more free. DT: Black and White or Color? Robert: The work was almost all the time black and white. DT: So the colour work was more experimental? Robert: Well I didn’t want to get into color, just black and white. That was enough for me. I saw everything as black and white.

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DT: Where does that come from? Robert: I think it started when I started with photography, I never was interested in color, black and white was photography for me. DT: Like that famous quote of yours... Robert: That’s a famous quote? DT: So we’ve heard. Did you ever do any digital photography? Robert: No, No, No, [it’s] too late for me. There’s not much point in starting with something so new and different. DT: How did you get into film-making? Robert: That’s the normal step - photography is limited in some ways. [Film-making is] hard in the beginning, also you don’t work alone anymore. It’s a big difference from photography where you can do it all by yourself. DT: Was it difficult learning to work with other people? Robert: Yeah. You have to get used to it. It’s quite different from working alone, yeah I found it was not the same - you three work together?

DT: Looking back at your entire body of work is there anything that stands out to you as your favourite piece or period of work? Robert: Well I think the book, the photographs... What’s it called, the book? DT: The Americans? Robert: The Americans, yeah that one. DT: Oh that one Robert: That was when I was really good. I was younger so I just think that to try and duplicate that wouldn’t work now. [The Americans] stands for me as my best work. DT: How long have you been living in this location in New York? Robert: I’ve had this a long time, maybe 15 or 20 years? DT: Is it a main floor and a loft? Robert: It’s three floors. This one is the first and then two more on top. We live on the one floor, and on the top floor I used to have my darkroom and all that – which I don’t have anymore. (June comes through the door)

DT: Yes, we are a collective. We will make this book together. Robert: You plan to make a book?

Robert: Come in! Come in!

DT: Yeah. We’ve already made one and the second is going to be called ‘Finding Robert Frank’.

DT: It’s nice to officially meet you, thank you for having us into your home. June: It’s nice to meet you, who did you see in Mabou? The Rankins?

Robert: It’s not too hard to find him. DT: You’d be surprised... (laughter) - it depends on where you look.

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DT: Yeah, the Rankins. June: Brenda and Peter?

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DT: Where does that come from? Robert: I think it started when I started with photography, I never was interested in color, black and white was photography for me. DT: Like that famous quote of yours... Robert: That’s a famous quote? DT: So we’ve heard. Did you ever do any digital photography? Robert: No, No, No, [it’s] too late for me. There’s not much point in starting with something so new and different. DT: How did you get into film-making? Robert: That’s the normal step - photography is limited in some ways. [Film-making is] hard in the beginning, also you don’t work alone anymore. It’s a big difference from photography where you can do it all by yourself. DT: Was it difficult learning to work with other people? Robert: Yeah. You have to get used to it. It’s quite different from working alone, yeah I found it was not the same - you three work together?

DT: Looking back at your entire body of work is there anything that stands out to you as your favourite piece or period of work? Robert: Well I think the book, the photographs... What’s it called, the book? DT: The Americans? Robert: The Americans, yeah that one. DT: Oh that one Robert: That was when I was really good. I was younger so I just think that to try and duplicate that wouldn’t work now. [The Americans] stands for me as my best work. DT: How long have you been living in this location in New York? Robert: I’ve had this a long time, maybe 15 or 20 years? DT: Is it a main floor and a loft? Robert: It’s three floors. This one is the first and then two more on top. We live on the one floor, and on the top floor I used to have my darkroom and all that – which I don’t have anymore. (June comes through the door)

DT: Yes, we are a collective. We will make this book together. Robert: You plan to make a book?

Robert: Come in! Come in!

DT: Yeah. We’ve already made one and the second is going to be called ‘Finding Robert Frank’.

DT: It’s nice to officially meet you, thank you for having us into your home. June: It’s nice to meet you, who did you see in Mabou? The Rankins?

Robert: It’s not too hard to find him. DT: You’d be surprised... (laughter) - it depends on where you look.

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DT: Yeah, the Rankins. June: Brenda and Peter?

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DT: Yeah and Brenda baked us a pie! June: Oh, she’s so nice. DT: It was so lovely, it was by thanksgiving and she said she knew that we wouldn’t be with our families. June: She’s a very nice woman. DT: She is, she came down the street to meet us because we had been talking with Peter in the driveway and she didn’t realize we had been there. She was expecting us to come back that day. June: What time? You mean first you went to look for Robert and then you stopped at her house? DT: We spoke with them for a little bit about our situation and why we were there. June: Why were you there? DT: It’s part of a project we’re working on. June: What is your project? DT: In the style of Robert’s quest throughout America, we set out on a pilgrimage from Toronto, ON to Mabou to see the country with fresh eyes June: Okay, so then you drove with that in mind and you went to Mabou DT: Yeah, we were unsuccessful. The Rankins said “you’ve missed them by two weeks” 222

so we went home and thought we might as well try and see if Robert’s in New York; what did we have to lose? June: So you just continued, took your chance, and came [to New York]? DT: Yeah, we had a few hiccups along the way. June: Did you drive? DT: We took a bus here, we drove to Mabou. DT: Are you working on a painting? June: I’m always working. DT: What sort of work are you doing now? June: It’s three dimensional. It’s a small sculpture. DT: It was pretty surreal to just be there looking over the coast... June: It’s beautiful isn’t it? DT: We’ve never seen anything like it, and you get to have it everyday. June: Everyday, yes. And it’s good, it’s very good; very lovely to have that. DT: We were feeling dejected when we had just missed you two. We walked down the driveway after, and our situation was imploding on us. Then it just so happened that we just accepted it, and the sun started to set overlooking the ocean - I guess the way you’d see it every night - and it was all okay.

June: That place is about that. We’re a small part of it, but it’s exactly what you just said. It’s good you stayed and made an adjustment. It’s a nice month up there, October... So that was two weeks ago you were there? Robert: You talked to the woman there, Brenda? DT: Peter and Brenda Rankin. But yes it’s been a wonderful journey; to have it end like this has been absolutely amazing. Robert: That’s okay, you came so far. How long did you stay in Mabou? DT: We were there for two days. Everyone we met was so nice, there was such an excellent energy there. Your neighbour, Suzanne, joked that you never really knew what her work was - she made colour Xeroxes of her plants from her garden. June: It’s good he doesn’t know... DT: She was very generous. She told us the story about her daughter leaving home, and eventually coming back, marrying the man she grew up across the street from, and moving back into her childhood home with him. June: That’s true! She had a crush on him when she was 11, or 12. She never asked [him out]. She was married twice and divorced; she’s maybe 50 now. Robert: Oh yeah, with Norman. June: And [Norman] never married. He really is just the nicest person I’ve met; very shy. It was a beautiful story, he bought the house she grew up in – she says it’s got the same creaky floor. A very unusual beautiful story. I’m very happy about it.

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DT: Yeah and Brenda baked us a pie! June: Oh, she’s so nice. DT: It was so lovely, it was by thanksgiving and she said she knew that we wouldn’t be with our families. June: She’s a very nice woman. DT: She is, she came down the street to meet us because we had been talking with Peter in the driveway and she didn’t realize we had been there. She was expecting us to come back that day. June: What time? You mean first you went to look for Robert and then you stopped at her house? DT: We spoke with them for a little bit about our situation and why we were there. June: Why were you there? DT: It’s part of a project we’re working on. June: What is your project? DT: In the style of Robert’s quest throughout America, we set out on a pilgrimage from Toronto, ON to Mabou to see the country with fresh eyes June: Okay, so then you drove with that in mind and you went to Mabou DT: Yeah, we were unsuccessful. The Rankins said “you’ve missed them by two weeks” 222

so we went home and thought we might as well try and see if Robert’s in New York; what did we have to lose? June: So you just continued, took your chance, and came [to New York]? DT: Yeah, we had a few hiccups along the way. June: Did you drive? DT: We took a bus here, we drove to Mabou. DT: Are you working on a painting? June: I’m always working. DT: What sort of work are you doing now? June: It’s three dimensional. It’s a small sculpture. DT: It was pretty surreal to just be there looking over the coast... June: It’s beautiful isn’t it? DT: We’ve never seen anything like it, and you get to have it everyday. June: Everyday, yes. And it’s good, it’s very good; very lovely to have that. DT: We were feeling dejected when we had just missed you two. We walked down the driveway after, and our situation was imploding on us. Then it just so happened that we just accepted it, and the sun started to set overlooking the ocean - I guess the way you’d see it every night - and it was all okay.

June: That place is about that. We’re a small part of it, but it’s exactly what you just said. It’s good you stayed and made an adjustment. It’s a nice month up there, October... So that was two weeks ago you were there? Robert: You talked to the woman there, Brenda? DT: Peter and Brenda Rankin. But yes it’s been a wonderful journey; to have it end like this has been absolutely amazing. Robert: That’s okay, you came so far. How long did you stay in Mabou? DT: We were there for two days. Everyone we met was so nice, there was such an excellent energy there. Your neighbour, Suzanne, joked that you never really knew what her work was - she made colour Xeroxes of her plants from her garden. June: It’s good he doesn’t know... DT: She was very generous. She told us the story about her daughter leaving home, and eventually coming back, marrying the man she grew up across the street from, and moving back into her childhood home with him. June: That’s true! She had a crush on him when she was 11, or 12. She never asked [him out]. She was married twice and divorced; she’s maybe 50 now. Robert: Oh yeah, with Norman. June: And [Norman] never married. He really is just the nicest person I’ve met; very shy. It was a beautiful story, he bought the house she grew up in – she says it’s got the same creaky floor. A very unusual beautiful story. I’m very happy about it.

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We went looking for Robert Frank. We started in Toronto and traveled east. Our trajectory was anything but direct. We were nervous about what we might find at Robert’s cabin at the edge of the wood, on a cliff in Cape Breton. Our nights were spent fantasizing, laughing, agreeing, disagreeing, snoring. Our days were spent on gravel shoulders, in parking lots, looking at the backs of “No Trespassing” signs, wading through the thick New Brunswick fog with the perpetual rhythm of the four-way flashers watching over us. We were making a grand gesture. Robert Frank had for a long time been emblematic of our commitment to photography, driving us to carry cameras almost everywhere we went. Finding him at the end of this long journey seemed to offer a sense of solidarity. We traveled almost five thousand kilometers to find him. “They left for New York about a week ago.” Robert’s neighbour Peter Rankin knew nothing of our journey, and so the news hit us hard in its nonchalance. All we could do was mill about the cabin like fruit flies. Nobody spoke. We listened to the comforting shush of the Atlantic as the sun went down. We hadn’t yet found Robert, but we would.

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We went looking for Robert Frank. We started in Toronto and traveled east. Our trajectory was anything but direct. We were nervous about what we might find at Robert’s cabin at the edge of the wood, on a cliff in Cape Breton. Our nights were spent fantasizing, laughing, agreeing, disagreeing, snoring. Our days were spent on gravel shoulders, in parking lots, looking at the backs of “No Trespassing” signs, wading through the thick New Brunswick fog with the perpetual rhythm of the four-way flashers watching over us. We were making a grand gesture. Robert Frank had for a long time been emblematic of our commitment to photography, driving us to carry cameras almost everywhere we went. Finding him at the end of this long journey seemed to offer a sense of solidarity. We traveled almost five thousand kilometers to find him. “They left for New York about a week ago.” Robert’s neighbour Peter Rankin knew nothing of our journey, and so the news hit us hard in its nonchalance. All we could do was mill about the cabin like fruit flies. Nobody spoke. We listened to the comforting shush of the Atlantic as the sun went down. We hadn’t yet found Robert, but we would.

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We were similarly silent coming out of Robert and June’s New York apartment. Twenty feet of sidewalk tiles, and a long group hug later, we carried on back to the Port Authority bus terminal to spend ten more hours on a bus back to our city. We embarked from home to find ourselves. Looking for Robert Frank, we arrived at his home and there was June Leaf. Once we were finally in the same room as Robert and June we were able to realize what else we had found in our search. “It’s good you stayed and made an adjustment” said June when we told her our story of looking over the Atlantic Ocean from their doorstep in Mabou. What we found was a place. We found it in every stop we made; every time we felt the rhythm of the four-way flashers; every time we found ourselves hours away from a highway, hours away from the nearest city. We found it a hundred times before we found Robert Frank and June Leaf, and now we start our lives after Frank.

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We were similarly silent coming out of Robert and June’s New York apartment. Twenty feet of sidewalk tiles, and a long group hug later, we carried on back to the Port Authority bus terminal to spend ten more hours on a bus back to our city. We embarked from home to find ourselves. Looking for Robert Frank, we arrived at his home and there was June Leaf. Once we were finally in the same room as Robert and June we were able to realize what else we had found in our search. “It’s good you stayed and made an adjustment” said June when we told her our story of looking over the Atlantic Ocean from their doorstep in Mabou. What we found was a place. We found it in every stop we made; every time we felt the rhythm of the four-way flashers; every time we found ourselves hours away from a highway, hours away from the nearest city. We found it a hundred times before we found Robert Frank and June Leaf, and now we start our lives after Frank.

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DAYTRIP

Matthew Volpe - Erich DeLeeuw - Andrew Savery-Whiteway Illustrator: Ben O’Neil

DAYTRIP is a collective that strives to flesh out the subtleties of Canadian culture through art, travel and discussions with artists from this great country. Issue 2 highlights a trip from Toronto, Ontario to Mabou, Nova Scotia and from Nova Scotia to New York City with ample discourse along the way. This is a documentation of our journey to find the iconic photographer Robert Frank. Thank you for coming along on the ride with us.

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DAYTRIP

Matthew Volpe - Erich DeLeeuw - Andrew Savery-Whiteway Illustrator: Ben O’Neil

DAYTRIP is a collective that strives to flesh out the subtleties of Canadian culture through art, travel and discussions with artists from this great country. Issue 2 highlights a trip from Toronto, Ontario to Mabou, Nova Scotia and from Nova Scotia to New York City with ample discourse along the way. This is a documentation of our journey to find the iconic photographer Robert Frank. Thank you for coming along on the ride with us.

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Thank you To our families and friends for their continued support and love.

Stillsane 232

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Thank you To our families and friends for their continued support and love.

Stillsane 232

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© DAYTRIP, 2015 day-trip.ca 234

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© DAYTRIP, 2015 day-trip.ca 234

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Profile for DAYTRIP MAGAZINE

Daytrip Magazine Issue No.2: After Frank  

Featuring Robert Frank, June Leaf, Paul Roth, and Maia-Mari Sutnik After Frank, documents their pilgrimage from Toronto to Mabou, Nova Scot...

Daytrip Magazine Issue No.2: After Frank  

Featuring Robert Frank, June Leaf, Paul Roth, and Maia-Mari Sutnik After Frank, documents their pilgrimage from Toronto to Mabou, Nova Scot...

Profile for day-trip
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