More than Real: The Death of Kodachrome

(Special event: Thursday, June 30 at the gallery. Premiere screening of J. Shimon and J. Lindemann’s kodachrome film, “Charlie’s in Kodachrome.” 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Also Professional Dimensions and CoPA will have receptions at the gallery.)

May 13 to July 10, 2011

Portrait Society Gallery is pleased to present  “More than Real: The Death of Kodachrome,” three new exhibitions running May 13 to July 10, 2011. Journal Sentinel review.

Each show serves as a tribute to the medium’s demise last year and looks at the unique properties of Kodachrome as a means of rendering images and memories.

Gallery A features “Casa Happiness” a collection of printed Kodachrome slides of local attorney Judy Drinka’s 1957 honeymoon in Cuba. Ms. Drinka was 19 years old and had never been out of the country. Her new husband, Martin, was a camera buff who took many slides during their three-week trip.

Julia Taylor, a Milwaukee photographer and President of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, became interested in this collection of vintage slides for both its artistic merits and her personal connection to the Drinkas. Ms. Taylor, in her own work, had been exploring outmoded photographic media, from Polaroids to Kodachrome.  The 19 images in the exhibition show pre-Castro Cuba through the saturated hues of the Kodachrome chemistry as the newly wedded couple embarked on their life together. (Cuba images)

Gallery B  presents Erik Ljung’s “Pilgrimage to Parsons, Kansas.” Ljung is a young photographer who had one 36-frame roll of undeveloped Kodachrome film in his possession when he heard that the last processing plant would close on December 30, 2010. Ljung decided to drive the 1,400 miles to Dwayne’s Photo in the town of Parsons, Kansas and use the film to document the journey.

The visual story of this trip, which meandered through Ronald Regan’s birthplace of Tampico, Ill. and a courageous snack of pickled gizzards in Grinnell Iowa, is presented in the show. The last picture was supposed to be saved for a portrait of Dwayne’s Photo but Ljung couldn’t resist photographing a “mashed up road kill,” which now marks the end of his journey as well as the end of Kodachrome.

In the Lounge is the third installment of this exhibition. “Flowers by Livija” is a project by Milwaukee photographer James Brozek. Fifteen years ago, Brozek was given a box of slides by an apartment manager who was closing out the residence of an elderly tenant. Recalling that he “felt something” for this body of non-descript slides that had fallen into the oblivion of non-ownership, he kept them.

Only fragments of information could be unearthed about Livija, the Latvian woman who took the slides. It appears that during the 1950s and ‘60s, Livija would create simple flower arrangements and then dedicatedly photograph them in still-life compositions. It was her private artistry. She also photographed each new floral arrangement that she would leave on the grave of her husband who had died in 1959. More images by Livija

All three of the exhibitions speak of the sense of distance and history now contained in the Kodachrome medium and explore how our memories are influenced and defined depending on the vehicle of their preservation.

For additional information please contact Gallery Director Debra Brehmer at 414-870-9930 or

Fred Bell’s Marshall Building Portrait Project

Milwaukee artist Fred Bell has embarked on a project to paint portraits of all the tenants and workers in the Historic Third Ward’s Marshall Building. His first twenty portraits are now on view at Portrait Society, 207 E. Buffalo Street, FIFTH Floor, Marshall Building, Milwaukee. Shepherd Express article on project.


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