Conversations 2015: Our best yet?

Axel ZwingenbergerWorld-renowned German pianist and photographer Axel Zwingenberger, one of the five best boogie-woogie piano players in the world, got Conversations 2015 off to a rocking start with his music on Friday night. The “Boogiemeister prophet of steam” also presented his stunning and, at times, death-defying night photography of German steam locomotives. Photograph by Henry A. Koshollek

Conversations 2015 is a wrap, and the foremost question on everyone’s mind at the Center is, simply, “What can we ever do to top this?” German guest Axel Zwingenberger played world-class boogie-woogie piano music and showed world-class night steam photography. Art collector Peter Mosse swept attendees into a whirlwind and globe-trotting tour of the fascinating world of railroad paintings. The curator of Britain’s National Railway Museum, Ed Bartholomew, presented a riveting overview of 175 years of British railway photography in less than forty-five minutes. Renowned photographers from across the country showed stunning images and provided insightful commentary on their methods and intentions, including J. Parker Lamb, one of the deans of American railroad photography. There were few dull moments for the close-to-capacity crowd of 175 attendees, who enjoyed sumptuous meals, lively social hours, and ample opportunities to converse with dozens of leaders in the fields of railroad photography and art. Topping Conversations 2015 is a tall order, but you can trust that the Center is up to the task. In the meantime, enjoy a “Top Ten” list about the conference from Trains editor Jim Wrinn and eighty views through the skillful eye of photographer Henry A. Koshollek.

Significant Images of Railroading

Significant Images of Railroading

Significant Images of Railroading, edited by Center president Scott Lothes, is a 78-page, softcover book that, for the first time, presents an overview of the Center’s photography collections. Of the nearly 200,000 images in those collections, ninety-three are presented here in vibrant color and rich, quadtone black-and-white. Those images come from ten principal collections, including the work of Wallace W. Abbey, whose circa 1950 photograph from Chicago Union Station is featured on the cover. A preservation award from Trains magazine helped fund processing of the Abbey Collection. Other major holdings include the works of Fred M. Springer, John F. Bjorklund, and Ted Rose. Biographical sketches written by Jack Holzhueter introduce each section. Archives manager Jordan Radke completed processing work on many of the collections; archival partner Lake Forest College also contributed greatly to the processing work. In addition to the Trains award, funding for this special publication came from Fred and Dale Springer, the Candelaria Fund, and Bon and Holly French.

$19.95, softcover, 78 pages, color and b/w

Conversations 2015: Print Program, Raffles, Docents

J. Parker Lamb Print RaffleIllinois Central steam locomotive no. 2613 at Cairo, Illinois, in 1959, in a photograph by J. Parker Lamb. Lamb will share a retrospective of his work at Conversations about Photography on Sunday, April 12, 2015. He has donated a 16×20 print of this photograph, which will be raffled on Saturday. Tickets are available in the conference page.

Conference presenter and renowned photographer J. Parker Lamb has donated a 16×20 print of the above photograph to be raffled on Saturday at Conversations 2015. Another print from David Plowden will be raffled on Friday, and Plowden plans to attend both the Friday dinner and the Saturday reception with his wife, Sandra. Tickets for both raffles are available on the 2015 conference page and will also be for sale at the door.

Two new prints are available through the Center’s Print Program. The 2015 offerings come from Ted Benson and Jeff Mast. Benson’s “Blossoms come to the Tidewater Southern” is an 11×14 silver gelatin print made by the photographer. Mast’s “Cumbres & Toltec” is a 10×15 archival pigment print made by program coordinator Jeff Brouws. Both are available in limited editions of ten, signed by the photographer. Pre-order for pickup at the conference to save ten percent.

We are excited to welcome five docents to Conversations 2015. They are photographers Brandon Townley, Davidson Ward, and John Sanderson, and archivists Jim Cascino and Andy Meyer. Townley, of Toledo, Ohio, is a talented professional photographer and first-time attendee. Ward comes from Nashville, Tennessee, and is attending his third conference—his first as a docent. He is a photographer, transportation consultant, and steam preservationist. Sanderson is returning for his second tour as a docent and brings a wealth of photography exhibition knowledge from his work in New York City galleries. Cascino and Meyer are both first-time attendees and currently working on the Center’s photography collections at Lake Forest College. We thank the conference patrons, whose generosity makes the docent program possible.

Just a few tickets remain for Conversations 2015. Get them while they last!

Railroad Heritage, Spring 2015: Lamb, Colter, La Posada, Awards

Railroad Heritage 40, Spring 2015

The Spring 2015 issue of Railroad Heritage features a two-part look at Fred Harvey architecture along the Santa Fe Railway. John Kelly explores the life of architect and designer Mary Colter, hired by the Harvey Company in the early 1900s. Joel Jensen investigates Allan Affeldt’s restoration of her crowning achievement, the La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona. John Gruber profiles noted photographer and 2015 conference presenter J. Parker Lamb. Winners of the 2014 John E. Gruber Creative Photography Award are displayed, including the first-prize photograph by Eric Williams, taken on the weekend of Conversations 2014.

$7.95, 48 pages, color and b/w

Tickets on sale for Conversations 2015

J. Parker LambIn an iconic photograph by J. Parker Lamb, a Gulf, Mobile & Ohio fireman enjoys a cool breeze as his freight train heads north behind Alco FAs at Marion, Mississippi, in July 1958. Lamb will share a retrospective of his work at Conversations about Photography on Sunday, April 12, 2015.

Reserve your spot for the Center’s annual conference, Conversations about Photography, April 10-12 on the campus of Lake Forest College, 30 miles north of Chicago. Headliners include J. Parker Lamb, Ted Benson, Dale Sanders, and Axel Zwingenberger. Peter Mosse will share selections from his extensive art collection, one of the largest private collections of railroad paintings in country. James Swensen, a BYU professor, will look at the railroad photography of Russell Lee. See the full line-up and purchase tickets on the conference page. Last year’s conference sold-out, so make your reservations now.

Scholarships, funded by conference patrons, are available for young and/or emerging photographers and other visual artists. The deadline for applications is February 1; recipients will be announced by February 13.