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Industry, Politics, And Wall Street On The Walls At Delaney Cooke Gallery

Originally Posted: January 29, 2009

Edward Callaghan

Sag Harbor - In a tiny store front galley on Sag Harbor's historic Main Street appropriately resides a repository of 20th century photo journalism, the extraordinary work of one of the noted photojournalists in the last century, Jerry Cooke.

Mary Delaney Cooke displays a special commemorative plaque from Life magazine.
Photos by John Wegorzewski

A new show, "Industry, Politics, and Wall Street" which opened at the Delaney Cooke Gallery in January and runs through Feb. 28 provides local audiences with a fascinating but tiny overview of the work of this man who literally gives us an eye on the last 100 years. In the street window was displayed an amazingly powerful and historic image of a young African-American couple sitting under a quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt referencing race relations in 1939, a time when blacks sat in separate waiting rooms down South.

The only problem with this show was that there was not enough on the walls but that was quickly resolved when owner Mary Delaney Cooke, widow and conservator of Jerry Cooke's vast body of work, brought attendees in to the mini-gallery in the rear. There she displayed stacks and stacks of his photographs - portraits of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, interiors of factories in the 1940s, a portrait of then recent defector Mikhail Baryshnikov, gymnast Kathy Rigby, chess king Bobby Fischer, children playing in a cemetery, and more from the once in a lifetime moments to the mundane everyday experiences

Cooke emigrated from the Ukraine, where he was born in 1922, to New York City in 1939 and started with photography as a darkroom assistant the year after he arrived in America. A family member loaned him a camera and he became a photographer. By 1951 he had already shot assignments for Life magazine, and that year he was the president of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP).

Mary Delaney Cooke, an artist herself who has shown in numerous galleries on the East End said, "I haven't been painting for some time as I've been devoting all my energy to cataloging and archiving Jerry's pictures, which is no small task."

Though it is certainly an ideal platform for her husband's work Mary dismisses the idea that this is in any way a "vanity project." In the coming months she plans to show the work of other local artists - painters, photographers, mixed media artists, sculptors, and of course she would like to include some of her own work.

Quite a few of our local artists turned out for this show by a man who is clearly much admired including Jonathan Morse, Pamela Willoughby, Kimberly Goff, and David Slater.


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