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Pedro E. Guerrero: Photographer of Mid-Century New Canaan
September 28, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm$5
Pedro E. Guerrero: The Photographer of Mid-Century New Canaan opens Sept. 28 at the New Canaan Historical Society with a reception from 6 to 8 pm. The exhibition includes 35 of Guerrero’s black and white photos, many depicting the architecture for which the town is famous, and will coincide with the Society’s much anticipated Modern House Day Tour on Oct. 20. A second gallery will be devoted to the life of Guerrero and his family in New Canaan during some of the town’s most tumultuous — and interesting — years.
Guerrero is internationally known for his work with the architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the sculptors Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson, as well as his photographs of modernist houses for the popular shelter magazines of the “Mad Men” era. Born in 1917 in segregated Arizona to parents of Mexican descent, he captured the attention of Wright at age 22. They formed a personal and professional bond that has been described as that of father and son. Like many of the architects Guerrero documented, he moved to then-rural New Canaan just after service in World War II and began building his own modernist house. He became an active member of the community and a strong voice against the Vietnam war, making national headlines as “The Dove on the Draft Board.” This stance landed him on magazine blacklists, ruining his freelance career. But along with hate mail and a dead bird stuffed in his mailbox came time to spend documenting artists he admired. Guerrero died in Arizona in 2012.
The photographic exhibit, organized by the Society with Edward Cella Art + Architecture of Los Angeles, the gallery which represents his estate, will display timeless images of New Canaan’s architectural heyday, including houses by Marcel Breuer and John Black Lee, and portraits of Calder’s home and studio. The second gallery mines Guerrero family archives and attics, featuring images of the pioneer clan in 19th-century Arizona, vintage cameras, and Guerrero’s own artwork. Other memorabilia depict a New Canaan that was at once pastoral and contentious – a battleground between hawks and doves, as illustrated by lively excerpts from the opinions column of the local newspaper.
Among other events planned by the Historical Society in conjunction with the exhibits are a lecture Sept. 30 at 3 pm, Pedro E. Guerrero’s Significant Work: A Talk with Emily Bills and Dixie Legler Guerrero; showings Oct. 11 at 11 am, 1 pm, 5 pm and 7 pm of the PBS American Masters, a documentary on Mr. Guerrero; and Memories & Margaritas: A Dinner Discussion with the Guerrero Family on Nov. 4 at 5 pm. Members of the Guerrero family will share stories and anecdotes while guests enjoy a Mexican meal.
The events are free to members and $5 to the public. The dinner event is $30 for members and $35 for the public, and reservations are required.
The exhibition continues through Dec. 9.
The New Canaan Historical Society, 13 Oenoke Ridge Road, New Canaan, Conn. 06940; (203) 966-1776. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., or by appointment. For more information, please visit nchistory.org.