On Being in San Francisco...

In 1932 San Francisco gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz assembled Group f/64, a collection of like-minded regional photographers who revolutionized American photography. The group included Ed Weston and Ansel Adams and was featured at a landmark showing at the newly opened deYoung museum that November.

That was the same year my dad was born, right here, on Oak Street.

In fact Dad and Mom (Cal alums both) met at Berkeley, and later my sister and brother were born at UCSF Hospital where Dad worked. This city is in my roots.

My folks left the bay area in the late ’50s, and I was born a few years later, about the same time that my dad started collecting photographs. While I grew up in Florida, I was surrounded by images of San Francisco, and the works of Weston, Adams, Cunningham and others from that original Group f/64. There was also work from later photographers like Max Yavno, William Heick, and Peter Stackpole. My dad seemed to be drawn to the photos taken of “his city” during his youth here. We have so much social media today it’s hard to imagine a time when images of places and experiences were less common. He was nostalgic.

I always assumed I would live here.

Army Street, Max Yavno, 1947 — what the area looked like when my father was 15, but also an beautiful photograph from his collection.

I “returned” to California after college (I tend to think of this like salmon instinctually “returning” to a place they’ve never been themselves, to spawn). I first moved to Marin. I spawned in Santa Cruz, but I landed in North Beach in 2011.

Neomodern is a new business, and the idea is pretty novel, but it actually feels like work I’ve been doing my entire life. Once it was clear I was going to build this new kind of service and gallery, there really was no doubt it needed to be in San Francisco. It is both a tribute to my father and an externalization of my feelings about photography and there’s really no place better suited for what it represents.

November 2017 will be the 85th Anniversary of the opening of the deYoung’s original show. I’ll try to display some more Group f/64 items at Neomodern in November; ironically It will be the first time some of those prints will be back in San Francisco since they were first presented. Maybe they’re returning to spawn as well…

My father, 2012