Nearly every good photograph tells a story. With portraits, the stories are personal, even without words. But in the portraiture exhibit now at the Talbot Historical Society, there are written stories, or at least brief biographies, in the accompanying catalog signed by photographer Steve Lingeman.
Many of the “Talbot People” in the exhibit and eponymous catalog were familiar to me, an Easton native who moved back here only about seven years ago. No doubt, many more will be familiar to those of you who didn’t leave home for a career and to raise a family 50 years ago.
One who is familiar to us, if only by sight from a car as my wife Liz and I drive to and from Easton, is Lucy Kendall, a self-described world traveler who travels these days almost exclusively by foot from her home in Easton Club East off Dutchman’s Lane, a mile or so east of U.S. 50. The photo makes her instantly recognizable even without the exhibit catalog story she wrote about herself. I don’t need to describe her appearance here, as the accompanying photo makes it apparent. She walks at least 10 miles nearly every day in her white jeans, dark top or jacket, and an umbrella, either for rain or, more often, as portable shade from the sun. The only difference is that the photo adds dots of photoshopped color to her black umbrella.
Photos in the show, Lingeman says, are shot in color but printed in black and white against a textured gray background. He adds bits of color here and there, as in a red nose on a dummy in the Gordon-Casquero-Fluke family who have homes in Easton and Washington, D.C., or the heart-shaped, red-framed eyeglasses of the retired realtor and about-town volunteer Merrilie Ford. Representing the more rural “Talbot People” in the exhibit is farmer and retired waterman Mike Mielke with a basket of corn in bright chartreuse yellow and green.
There are also public faces and figures in the show, among them Chuck Callahan, president of the Talbot County Council, and Pete Lesher, also serving on the county council but perhaps better known in his role as chief historian of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. He’s known for wearing bow ties when not sailing or swimming laps at the Chesapeake Y in Easton. But his bowtie in this photo is black on white. I asked him what color it was, and, at a glance, he somehow knew it was one of his blue ones. His mother, Annabel Lesher, is pictured in a photo next to her son’s—no bowtie for her.
Sarah Jesse, director of the Academy Art Museum in Easton, is captured in four shots in quartered poses against a lighter background next to a group photo with her fellow “Ladies in Charge” at the museum, including Donna Alpi, chair of the AAM Board of Trustees, Nanny Trippe of Easton’s Trippe Gallery and a retiring trustee chair, plus her predecessor as chairwoman, Cathy McCoy.
Kentavius Jones, photographed in his understated hipster shirt and jeans, is best known as singer-songwriter K.J. whose debut album, “The Bohemian Beatbox,” reflects the range of his musical influences – reggae, blues, and hip-hop. But he’s also an influencer in his day job as executive director of Talbot Mentors for local kids.
The only fully color photo in the exhibit is of Laura Rubio in her pink gown for her 15th birthday quinceanera celebration. It’s right next to Laura with her family, in black and white, wearing a T-shirt and jeans.
Getting back to Lucy Kendall on foot – to and from and all around Easton (and occasionally by bus to other historic Eastern Shore towns – her “Talbot Spy” biographical is unique among those printed in the catalog. After touring extensively in sales for a travel agency and later her own company, Lucy met and married a gentleman who lived on cruise ships year-round. Together, they sailed the world for ten years before he died in Australia at 81.
About that time, her sister Carolyn bought a home in Easton with money from their family’s trust. “I didn’t think I’d like to live in the middle of nowhere. But since I was living on just Social Security, I decided to give it a try. Turns out,” Lucy writes, “I love Easton. It’s a festival town, so I feel as if I’m still traveling.” As a bonus, she now has a record of her global history. Since she always traveled light, Lucy had no photographs or souvenirs from the myriad places she’d been. But over the years, she had sent her sister 400-plus postcards, which Carolyn put to good use, placing a red dot on a world map to indicate most places Lucy visited.
My wife and I have spotted her hundreds of times on her now-local explorations. At first, we thought of asking if she needed a ride. But we learned from her neighbors that she’s her own tour guide and means of transportation.
Among the highlights in the upcoming second installation is a photo of Easton’s new mayor, a sleeveless Megan Cook, and of a Ukrainian refugee family, including American citizen Jeff Ex and his Ukraine-born wife and children. Escaping from the bombarded river city of Dnipro, the Ex family recently observed their first anniversary of escape from the Russian invasion. “As an American, I never thought of having to decide to take an evacuation train to flee the country for safety.” He credits Matthew Peters, director of Chesapeake Multiple Cultural Resource Center, for providing his family a lifeline in their wartime refugee destination. (Peters is also pictured in “Talbot People.”)
The first installment of “Talbot People,” following a reception on Groundhog Day, February 2, is open through March 1. The second installment, drawn from another 50 portrait stories, opens mid-March and runs through May 1 at the Denton Extended Museum of the Historical Society at 25 S. Washington St., downtown Easton.
Steve Parks is a retired New York arts writer and editor now living in Easton.