Parks, who died in 2006, made his reputation as a photojournalist before expanding into film, literature and musical composition. In the fall, the centennial of his birth was marked with the five-volume “Gordon Parks: Collected Works.” It unveiled many previously unpublished pictures from the “Segregation Series,” the source of that picture of the ice cream stand.
Twenty of the photos were published in Life, but more than 70 had gone unseen. The series includes other sorts of American gothics: a formal portrait of a dignified older couple, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Thornton, and “Outside Looking In,” in which black girls gaze at whites on a forbidden playground. The oppressive word “colored” appears frequently.
Contrasting the Alabama pictures are some that Parks made seven years later, in his native Kansas. They show only nature and children, without rules or signs of any sort. “Boy with a June Bug” is rustic and relaxed, even utopian. Parks certainly didn’t believe that African Americans could escape permanently into summer vacation; his other work is full of images of them in conflict with society. But these photos, in their way, show as much yearning for freedom as Parks’s fiercer images.
An American Lens
on view through May 31 at Adamson Gallery, 1515 14th St. NW. 202-232-0707; www.adamsongallery.com.
Portraits of Latino life
There are no black-and-white or historical shots in “Latino/U.S. Cotidiano,” an exhibition of large-format photographs that are bright, bold and immediate. “Cotidiano” means “everyday life,” and this project means to document just that for Latinos in North America. “Everyday” includes some uncommon scenes, however, in this show at the recently restored former residence of the ambassador of Spain.
The 12 photographers roamed from New York to Mexico City, making both candid and staged pictures. Interestingly, superheroes appear in both. Mexico’s Dulce Pinzon dresses immigrant workers in costumes so that one guy cleans fish in an Aquaman getup. But Spain’s Ricardo Cases just happened upon a cocky young dude in a Superman outfit in Miami, while in L.A., Peru-born Hector Mata found a young brother and sister in matching man-of-steel togs. American Stefan Ruiz documents a different sort of extraordinary creature: the upscale fantasy figures of Mexican telenovelas, photographed in character on their shows’ sets.