Jerry Siegel at Barbara Archer

At the same time every morning for a year and a half, photographer Jerry Siegel met an elderly gal named Geraldine at 6:30 a.m. before she ate breakfast at a local quick stop cafe in Birmingham, Alabama. The powerful series of 24 portraits that emerged will remain in your memory long after viewing.

Barbara Archer Gallery presents Jerry Siegel: GERALDINE from September 16 through October 29, 2011. The public is invited to the opening reception on Friday, September 16 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Siegel will give a gallery talk on Saturday, October 29 at 11am.

Siegel has made hundreds of portraits in his career, always fascinated by an individual’s identify and self image. When he noticed the 82-year-old Geraldine wearing a red sequined dress first thing in the morning, he had to introduce himself and compliment her ensemble.

As he built her trust and began photographing her, Geraldine continued to surprise Siegel with fanciful, over-the-top outfits, each one more outrageous than the day before.

In the end result, artist and subject both challenge the viewer to consider the choices we make every day in presenting our own image to the world. In Geraldine’s case, her eccentric persona shines through loud and clear, undaunted by how others might perceive her.

Siegel is deeply influenced by photographers Diane Arbus and Henri Cartier-Bresson. At a masters’ class in portraiture with Arnold Newman at the Maine Photographic Workshops, Newman said of Siegel’s work, “This is not only the work of a professional, but the work of an artist.”

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