Gordon Parks picked up a camera as his weapon of choice against poverty, intolerance and racism. Forty-five of his most iconic images make up the exhibit Gordon Parks: Crossroads thats opening tomorrow at the ArtMuseum of Southeast Texas (AMSET). Among the images that viewers will see is American Gothic, Washington D.C., one of Parkss most well-known photographs and one of his earliest. Made in 1942 after he spent a difficult day struggling with the Jim Crow practices in Washington D.C., Gothic is a stark black-and-white image of an African-American cleaning woman imitating a famous painting by Grant Wood. I set up my camera for my first professional photograph and asked Ella [Watson] to stand before the American flag hanging from floor to ceiling, placed a mop in one hand, a broom in the other, then instructed her to look into the lens, Parks has said. There are also portraits of Muhammad Ali, Malcom X, and Eldridge and Kathleen Cleaver. Those are juxtaposed against formal shots of elegant models wearing luxurious ball gowns and mourners at a gang members funeral. The exhibit officially opens up tomorrow, but you can get a sneak peek during todays opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. 500 Main Street, Beaumont. For information, call 409-832-3432 or visit www.amset.org. Free.
Fri., Jan. 16, 6-8 p.m., 2009