“Gene’s Friend: Cranston Ritchie,” presents photos by Kentucky’s own Cranston Ritchie, who died in 1961 at age 38. The exhibit will be on display at the Photographic Archives Gallery in Ekstrom Library July 9 through Sept. 25.
The “Gene” in the exhibit title is famed photographer, Ralph Eugene “Gene” Meatyard. He and Ritchie were members of the Lexington Camera Club and good friends. Cranston’s younger brother, Bernard, recalls their excursions as hunting in the woods, but instead of guns, they had cameras.
Photographs by Ritchie and Meatyard share the element of movement, but Ritchie’s work featured patterns as well as the loss of identity, while Meatyard explored surrealism. The men worked together until Ritchie’s death.
Ritchie was a World War II veteran who picked up photography shortly after receiving the U.S. Armed Forces Purple Heart. Due to a malignant tumor on his hand, he lost his arm and used a prosthetic device. He practiced photography for only five years, but his legacy lives on in his photographs as well as in the work of Meatyard, as he appears in many of Meatyard’s popular images.
The opening reception for “Gene’s Friend: Cranston Ritchie” will be 5 p.m., Thursday, July 9 at the Photographic Archives Gallery. The reception and exhibit are free and open to the public. The gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Photographer and scholar James Rhem, along with longtime curator of the university’s photo archives Bill Carner, who retired in 2012, are guest curators for the exhibit. For more information see louisville.edu/library/archives/photo.