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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Ben Shahn: Fair Season, Ohio, 1938


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Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film

Purchasing tickets at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938
 
Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film

Refreshment stand at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938 

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Spectators at at county fair eating lunch, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938
 
Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film

Jockey and spectators at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938
 
Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film

Spectators at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from original neg.
 
Sideshow attraction, county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938 

Image, Source: digital file from original neg.

Sideshow, county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938
 
Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film

Selling tickets to the sideshow, county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938 

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film

At the Fourth of July celebration, Ashville, Ohio. The Ashville Fourth of July celebration is a small-scale fair, carrying the amusement features of the fairs without the farm implements displays, etc. It comes earlier than the regular fairs: photo by Ben Shahn, July 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film

 At the Wrestling matches, Fourth of July celebration, Ashville, Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, July 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film

Wrestling matches, Fourth of July celebration, Ashville, Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, July 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film

Wrestling matches, Fourth of July celebration, Ashville, Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, July 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
At the baseball game, Fourth of July celebration, Ashville, Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, July 1938
 
Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film

At the Fourth of July celebration, Ashville, Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, July 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
 At the Fourth of July celebration, Ashville, Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, July 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Sideshow at the Fourth of July celebration, Ashville, Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, July 1938
 
Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Sideshow at the Fourth of July celebration, Ashville, Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, July 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Sign advertising county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Entrance to Champaign County Fair, Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Livestock display, Champaign County Fair, Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Amusement at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: b&w film copy neg. of print
 
At the county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Amphitheatre, county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938
 
Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Advertisement on grandstand at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938
 
Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Spectators at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Tractor on display at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Lineup for pony race at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Advertising feeds at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Advertising feeds at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Sideshow at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Spectators at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
State police and spectators at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938
 
Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Weight-pulling contest, county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Spectators at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938
 
Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Spectator at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Spectator at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Spectators at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Spectators at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938
 
Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Spectators at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Spectator at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938
 
Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Spectators at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Refreshment stand at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Refreshments at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Spectators at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Spectators at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938
 
Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Spectator at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Spectators at sideshow, county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film
 
Men at county fair, central Ohio: photo by Ben Shahn, August 1938


Photos from Farm Security Administration Collection, Library of Congress

13 comments:

Hazen said...

Tom, To find this excellent display of Shahn-iana is well worth rising from the basement depths. Shahn brings us right into the middle of every scene; he catches the human being in mid-stride, mouth agape, arms akimbo, head turning—life at full tilt, a todo dar; complete with The Fat Lady and the thin kid with the Mr. Natural gait, and the Nudist Colony absent all gawking spectators. There’s something of Hieronymus Bosch in Shahn’s world view. And lest we forget, you remind us with the placement of that last photo that The Man is always there watching, billy club in hand. Have a bang-up Fourth?

I hope the surgery was a success and that you have dispelled the gremlins from the inner sanctum.

Conrad DiDiodato said...

Horns & tails, and girls with 'hippo feet'--
the people's fair

ACravan said...

I love seeing these and gaining a new perspective on Ben Shahn. I really feel the heat in these photos and I am so reminded of how I feel about fairs (pro and con) looking at these artist’s “glances.” Mostly I'm left with an impression of an artist’s acute, individual and innately generous eye, which I contrast with something I read this morning, a glib soliloquy posted on Facebook, the crossroads of the world, from the new television show, The Newsroom, concerning America’s terminal horribleness. The actor-speech reproduced, replete with clichéd signposts and arguably wrong factual examples, was posted by a fellow U.S. citizen who clearly thinks that he and all of his like-minded friends gathered at the crossroads (waiting for an animal sacrifice, I would guess) are superior to me. Posting it seemed so anti-holiday, so terminally horrible. Happy July 4th. I’m determined to enjoy the beautiful day. Curtis

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Full moon going down into branches this morning, Jupiter above Venus in the east, then the sun rose. . .
Happy 4th to you both! The parade in Bolinas still goes on apace, heading down Terrace soon to see. . .

7.4

light coming into sky above still black
ridge, two planets across from branches
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

efforts to observe familiar
object, three or four

given reference, even in it,
where the two figures

silver of low sun reflected in channel,
cormorant flapping across toward ridge

TC said...

Our patriotic traditionalism must by now be well known. Last year at this time for instance three nutty weeks of archival enquiry culminated in the presentation of Russell Lee's moving and warmly respectful photographic homage to the Fourth of July celebrations in Vale, Oregon.

But this year the energy required for lifting and waving the flag was found wanting. Maybe it's the fact that Oregon and Ohio were/are creatures of a different stripe of Americana. Maybe it's the current inescapable thought that one is living in a land whose prospective leadership would deny climate change even as the St Elmo's fire crackled in the downed tree branches not yet washed away by the tsunami approaching the lush green Beltway front lawns.

Or maybe this ebbing of patriotic spirit should be put down to a certain clarity, or perhaps obscurity, of vision, consequent to our latest amerikan medikal komedy -- the traditional whiteman's scalping still unhealed and unannealed yesterday starting all over again with a new surgeon in an outpatient procedure conducted above the mazelike channels of a cheapjack amerikan shopping mall busy with honking shop-till-droppers filling the already foul air with further carbon slag as they stocked up on backyard bar-b-q essentials for the Big Kahuna of Holidays. Get those antacids ready for tonight's even bigger salvos, Mr & Mrs John Q Public.

Ben Shahn was a stranger to Ohio and as such saw it with the critical eye of someone who did not belong there. Sans the fond nostagia. And it looked back at him with a complementary distrust. Butt-to-face, as it were -- the Ohio equivalent of putting your best foot forward?

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Carnyed
Hey little eskimo
past the dime toss
to join to find
my band my tribe
all scattered
to the Doug fir
exhibition tent
the floral room

By the pies
I get closer
to the animals
their ribbons
my dad's story
about Elitch's in Denver
(the most mind-altering
experience around)

once on the
Ferris Wheel while hail
hit the people
how everyone got hurt
being stuck
on the rides
& everything


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DPlQrlNxHY&feature=related

Wooden Boy said...

Obligatory fun is no fun at all. The recent Jubilee celebrations have pressed that one home.

It's always interesting when the photographer figures in the picture in this fashion. The politics of such image making is quite troubling. We need the images that come from that critical distance, that don't serve a people's sense of themselves.

One of the other things I find fascinating in this series is the rudimentary approaches to advertising, those hand painted signs with the bad grammar. Nothing so homepun now, I reckon.

Nin Andrews said...

I always love these posts.

I only have a few minutes of checking in from the world of being off the grid . . .

And always this is the best place to be on the web.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

re the "POTATOE LATKIZ"--maybe bad spelling and grammar but I bet my last 5 scents,they shur smeld nice and tasted even better than the junk that passiz for food nowadays duz!

larry white said...

Thanks, Tom, for posting a fair's worth of Shahn (anticipating Shania)! I'd only known him as an artist-illustrator. From the eyes of innocence to the eyes of experience, it's all there. I live in the hometown of Phil Stong whose first novel State Fair was published in 1932. His country homeplace was destroyed by tornado in the past decade -- long after his death in 1957. He collaborated with photographer Josephine von Miklos on County Fair in 1938, was a friend of Grant Wood and may have known Shahn.

I stayed home as usual during the obligatory festivities though I saw most of the explosions from my open front door in the near 100 degree heat. The evening before, equally hot, had been the real thing, a four-man blues band (Van and the Movers) down from Fairfield doing their awesome thing in the parking lot of the nursing home not far from my house. I heard them warming up and hurried over. It doesn't get any better.

departuredelayed said...

I spent a significant part of yesterday at another such fair. I am very strangely drawn to county & state fairs, and have been known to travel northward and eastward to adjacent states, just to see how they get along with such things. Nothing very "Dustbowl" about them these days, and they often prove shockingly expensive; but I do enjoy talking to the sunburnt leathery customers who rarely stray beyond the large animals.

Robb said...

As always, these photos make me ache with connection I did not know I had even though I always have it.

Also: "Potatoe" ... Quayle may have been on to something.

TC said...

Ben Shahn really knew how to get to the bottoms of things.