Dorothea Lange Garden Party
Backyard of the home where Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor lived in Berkeley, CA. (L-R) Wayne Miller; Joan Miller; John Dixon; Meg Patridge; Dan Dixon; Chrissie Gardner; Rondal Partridge. Photo by Tim Wagner
As part of the ongoing celebration of the 75th anniversary of The New Deal, Dorothea Lange, one of the founders of Aperture magazine and famous for the legendary Migrant Mother, the photograph that sums up the Great Depression, was honored by Fotovision with a garden party on September 21, 2008 at Lange and Paul Taylor’s home in Berkeley. Guest speakers were Dan and John Dixon (sons of Lange and her first husband, Maynard Dixon), photographer Wayne Miller (90, co-curator of the seminal Family of Man show), his muse Joan Miller, Rondal Partridge, (91, photographer, son of Imogen Cunningham, and Lange’s assistant while she worked for the FSA), and Chrissie Gardner (88, Lange’s assistant during her project on the Japanese Internment at the beginning of WWII). Filmmaker and daughter of Ron Partridge, Margaret Partridge, and photographer Ken Light were co-moderators.
The circle of family and friends told stories of Dorothea’s coffee klatches (she made coffee cakes by the dozens), her photos (legendary), and swapped insider gossip about her, like the story of when she was invited to Shirley Burden’s daughter’s wedding, he being one of last of the Vanderbilts and a major photo supporter for Aperture and MoMA. Dorothea reportedly wore a $12.50 Montgomery Wards dress but glowed, even when sitting between Fred Astaire and Nat King Cole, who talked over her head the whole evening. Shirley had asked her to be the wedding photographer, and though she declined, she took photographs of the occasion which she sent to him later.
Dorothea was famously social and held a party for Edward Steichen while he was curating the Family of Man exhibit in 1955. She invited all the important west-coast photographers so that he would not leave them out of the exhibit and, as a result of her efforts, that landmark show had works by Lange, Ansel Adams, Ruth Marion Baruch, Shirley Burden, John Collier, Matt Farbman, Consuelo Kanaga, Otto Hegel, Wayne Miller, Homer Page, Ron Partridge, and Edward Weston.
Click below to see additional photos from the party.
Andrew Dixon (Lange’s grandson); Helen Dixon (Lange’s daughter-in-law and former wife of John Dixon); Lisa Dixon Perrin (Lange’s granddaughter) in Lange’s studio
Dan Dixon (son of Lange and Maynard Dixon, her first husband); John Dixon (son of Lange and Maynard Dixon); Ron Partridge (Lange’s assistant in the field and studio, son of Imogen Cunningham)
Meg Partridge (filmmaker, daughter of Ron Partridge, granddaughter of Imogen Cunningham); Ron Partridge; Mark Conroe (fine-art photography collector and Fotovision member). Admiring a portrait of Dorothea Lange by Ron Partridge that he donated to Fotovision. Mark was the high bidder for the image.
All photos by Tim Wager.