Between 1971 and 1975, while attending classes at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I worked as a bartender at a neighborhood bar on the south side of Chicago called George Brown’s. Located in a Polish/Ukrainian community south on Halsted Street, it was surrounded by steel mills and factories and seemed to be the place to go after work for a shot and a beer, for dances on the weekends, wedding receptions, funeral parties, retirements, showers, reunions, etc. Every Saturday night, members of the Polish Legion would meet there to relive the Second World War, listen to Glen Miller and the Andrew Sisters on the juke box, and would try to put puzzle pieces of understanding together from each other’s stories and adventures. They would come into the light of the bar from the shadows at the edge of the dance floor, like great orators, into the spotlight of the stage, to present a dialogue that might define the closest things wrapping the heart of their lives. My mother had grown up in this neighborhood, and she and my father had their wedding reception there. I grew up surrounded by these people, and I loved to listen to their stories, which would often touch on my own life and family history.
There are 100, 11”x7” prints on selenium toned, Agfa Portriga Rapid in this series that I printed in the Art Institute of Chicago darkrooms between 1971 and 1975. In 1973 Time Life published the first in their series of Photography Year books, and printed 9 of these photos in the “New Discoveries” section of this first edition.