Featured photo: Central Arizona Project, Arizona, 2014, by Marilyn Szabo. Archival inkjet print, 18″ x 27″ — Image courtesy of Tilt Gallery.
Through June 26, 2015, you can glimpse the magnificent black-and-white photography of Marilyn Szabo at Tilt Gallery on Main Street in Scottsdale. The solo exhibition highlights Szabo’s work from the recently released coffee-table book At Work in Arizona: The First 100 Years, a project of Alliance Bank of Arizona and an important contribution toward preserving Arizona history through new and archival photographs. Also on view at Tilt are several of Szabo’s works from her travels in the U.S. and Europe.
Szabo has lived and worked in Arizona for many years, with much of the last 12 years focused on working with Alliance Bank. Interestingly, helping to compile the 168-page, oversized book required not only her own photography — sometimes taking her to unusual sites in unusual ways (by helicopter and plane, for instance) — but also countless days of searching through estate sales, thrift stores and on the Internet, not to mention one instance of dumpster diving, to find images that reflected our state’s social and economic growth. As such, At Work in Arizona presents historically important views of industries like mining and farming, as well as personalities that have helped shaped our state.
Featured at Tilt is Szabo’s wonderful image of the iconic Westward Ho in Phoenix — with an updated view that includes a light-rail train — as well as an aerial view of the mysterious Roden Crater, a long-term Light & Space project being undertaken by the internationally known artist James Turrell. There’s an image of the Phoenix Financial Center on Central Avenue (the “computer card” building) that makes it seem rather majestic, and an intriguing photo of Pedro E. Guerrero of Florence, Arizona, who worked for Frank Lloyd Wright as the official photographer of Taliesin West. One of my favorites of Szabo’s photos is “Central Arizona Project, Arizona, 2014,” showing the canal — the state’s lifeline of sorts — ethereally zigzagging its way through shrouded desert mountains.
Have a listen to my recent interview (audio below) with Szabo, where she describes working with James Lundy of Alliance Bank to fill the bank’s branches with Arizona-centric black-and-white photography and then realizing almost a decade later that they had amassed something worthy of a book. She also describes some of her more challenging tasks as the project photographer, along with a lucky shot or two.
By the way, proceeds from At Work in Arizona are benefiting the Alliance for Education Fund; details at http://www.next100years.org/