Exhibition catalogues frequently offer a special focus to art, with new critical and curatorial comments. This catalogue also includes a short story, previously part of a documentary made by Isaac Bashevis Singer and Bruce Davidson. The two had a long creative and neighborly relationship, discussed in Gabriele Werfeli’s interview with Davidson. The Mead Art Museum exhibition included classic photographs of the shtetl by Roman Vishniac and Davidson’s work — 35- year-old studies of the Lower East Side and recent portraits of Singer at ease in the now-defunct Garden Cafeteria, his uptown apartment and in his neighborhood — almost to the end of his days.
The forlorn, weathered beauty photographed by Davidson forms a curious counterpoint to Singer’s “The Beard, “ with its alternating fantasy and gritty worldliness. Singer moved the settings of his stories from Poland to New York just before World War II, and recreated there the spirit and flesh of those devoured or devastated by the Shoah.
Davidson has been photographing the changing Lower East Side for more than 50 years. The catalog is printed in a handsome, 8 1/2 “ x 8 1/2 “ format. Acknowledgements; contributors; 45 plates; 10 text illustrations.