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.

Cumbres & Toltec, by Jeff MastChartered steam freight train on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad on March 15, 2014. Photograph by Jeff Mast

Friday, April 10 (Glen Rowan House, 5:30–9:00 p.m.)

  • Reception with photography exhibition
  • Dinner in Calvin Durand Hall of the Mohr Student Center
  • Axel Zwingenberger
    Boogie-woogie piano music and its railroad influences

Saturday, April 11 (Chapel, 8:30–5:00)

  • Jeff Mast and Mike Valentine
    A Journey into Photo Charters
  • Diane Bacha
    Great American Railroad Stories
  • Peter Mosse
    The World of Railroad Paintings: 175 Years, 25 Countries
  • David Kahler
    Pocahontas Division, Norfolk Southern Railroad
  • Axel Zwingenberger
    Night photography of German steam railroads
  • Ed Bartholomew
    Collections from England’s National Railway Museum
  • Ted Benson, Dick Dorn, Dale Sanders, and Dave Stanley
    72–82: Western Pacific’s Final Decade
  • Reception, Glen Rowan House, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

Sunday, April 12 (McCormick Auditorium, 9:00–1:00)

  • J. Parker Lamb
    Retrospective
  • Justin Franz
    Photojournalism and railroads
  • Bill Stewart
    Artist Howard Fogg and the Monon Railroad
  • James Swensen
    Always on the Go: FSA Photography, Russell Lee, and the Railroad