Artists young and old alike are crammed inside the Howard Greenberg Family Gallery at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art. The stark white walls are lined with black and white photographs, and at front of the crowd stands a bespectacled Howard Greenberg himself.
On Sunday, Feb. 28, the Dorsky hosted a gallery talk with Greenberg, co-sponsored by The Center for Photography at Woodstock. The hour-long conversation focused on the current exhibition “On the Street and in the Studio.” The show displays notable street photography and is the first of a two-part exhibition of photographs donated to the museum by Greenberg.
“We try to do at least one program for every show,” Curator Daniel Belasco said. “Whenever possible, I prefer gallery talks even if it’s a little too crowded.”
According to Belasco, the notorious gallerist and art dealer has donated over 2,000 photographs to the Dorsky. A little under 50 percent of the photographs in the collection are Greenberg’s.
Belasco said that students from his spring 2015 museum studies class created all of the captions for the pieces in the show through research. Greenberg attended one of the classes to assist the students, and afterward, they were able to reach out to him via email.
Sunday’s program began with an introduction from the Neil C. Trager Gallery Director Sarah Pasti and Belasco. After their warm words of welcome, Greenberg took the stage.
“I have nothing prepared,” he said, and the audience chuckled in return.
Greenberg admitted to the eager onlookers that he wanted to leave the space open to questions from the audience. He briefly expressed gratitude to the museum studies students, Pasti and Belasco. He introduced himself and promptly asked attendees to take over.
Immediately, a hand shot up with a query about a picture behind Greenberg, taken by legendary beat poet Allen Ginsberg. The collector said that he has over 2,000 of Ginsberg’s photographs.
“I guess you could say I’m a completely obsessive collector of things,” Greenberg said. “As a kid I collected baseball cards, and now I collect photographs.”
The topics ranged from the works around the congregation to the movement of photography from film to digital. The well-informed populace wondered about his transition from Buffalo to Woodstock and the first photograph he collected.
According to Greenberg, the first photograph he acquired was a piece by Jerry Uelsmann, titled “Apocalypse.” Uelsmann became a personal hero of Greenberg, who took a workshop with him.
“I ended up trading him two boxes of cigars for that photograph,” Greenberg said.
Local resident Elizabeth Panzer attended the event and said she learned a lot from Greenberg. She believes that it is important to see impressive artwork and find out what makes something collectable.
“I do photography and it’s sort of something I didn’t do when I was younger, so I have a lot to learn,” said.
“On the Street and in the Studio” will remain in the Dorsky until July 10. The second half of the exhibition will open on Aug. 31 with the theme of portraiture.