People likely know Stanley Marcus as the trailblazing former president of high-end retailer Neiman Marcus, not an accomplished photographer.
His granddaughter, Allison V. Smith, fully understands.
“He always had a camera with him, but he never really shared his images,” she said. “Maybe he had a few family slideshows, but he never shared them.”
Until now. A lauded photographer in her own right, Smith is presenting Marcus’ photos alongside her own at Reflections, the latest exhibit of [Artspace] at Untitled, running through March 30.
“I didn’t see his work until after he died,” she said. “That’s when he gifted me with over 3,000 slides and said, ‘Maybe you could do something with these someday.’” And do something she did. The revelation of Marcus’ other side inspired her and her mother to write the 2008 book Reflection of a Man: The Photographs of Stanley Marcus. In preparing the volume, Smith discovered that an eye for finding the perfect image runs in the family.
“I was excited to see that we’re drawn to the same subject matter,” said Smith. “There’s one picture in particular in the book — just a really simple, pretty picture of some wallpaper and a chair just leaning against the wall. It was so simple, yet so elegant and beautiful, and that’s what I look for: just that simplicity. People always talk about his eye — the eye of Stanley Marcus — and I think this exhibit makes that eye go even further.”
Like her grandfather, she finds a theme of “people and empty spaces” running through her photojournalism.
“Whether it’s portraits of people or old buildings that have been forgotten, I like documenting life,” Smith said.
Although she’s used to having gallery exhibits of her own, she said she is grateful to share the spotlight with her late grandfather, and proud to have their art side-by-side for the public to compare.
“It’s an honor. I wish he were here to enjoy it with me,” Smith said. “These photographs have only been shown once before, in the Dallas Museum [of Art]. It’s exciting to see these photographs again, especially combined with mine.”
Smith hopes attendees will emerge from the exhibition looking at the world in a different light.
“I get so inspired looking at other people’s photography, so I hope that I can give that back as well,” she said. “I know that Stanley’s photographs are so inspiring, not just to people that love photography, but to people who love fashion and travel. I hope that my work kind of brings that same inspiration out in folks.”