Bruce Jackson (b. 1936), Julia, November 1972; photograph; Courtesy of the artist

Bruce Jackson (b. 1936), Julia, November 1972; photograph; Courtesy of the artist

Bruce Jackson Being There: Julia

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Throughout the run of Being There: Bruce Jackson Photographs 1962-2010, the artist is sharing some of the stories behind his photographs.Being There is on view until June 16, 2013. The catalog accompanying the exhibition is available at The Museum Store at the Burchfield Penney.


This is my mother, at her home in Fords, New Jersey, in 1972. We fought for years. We fought hard enough that I forged a birth certificate when I was 16 and tried to join the Navy but they caught me; the next year I was old enough to do it legally an got out of the house by joining the Marines. Then, at some point and for reasons I do not know, the anger dropped away and the triggers no longer set anything off, and we were good friends right up to the moment of her death.

One of the last things she said to me—it was in a University of Pennsylvania hospital room—was, "You know what really bothers me?" We both knew where things were. I said no, I didn't. She lifted her left arm and swung her index finger in an arc, back and forth, back and forth. "Lenny?" I said. "Yes," she said, "Lenny."

She loved Lenny Bernstein. He had died not long before. So on her way out, what bothered her most wasn't that she was about to be gone but that Leonard Bernstein was no longer in the world, making music.

The two things she most loved watching on television were Bernstein in concert or in his programs for kids, and the New York Marathon. I could not call her on days they were running the Marathon or when Lenny was on PBS. I once asked her, "How can you be equally crazy about the New York Marathon and Lenny Bernstein?" She didn't even bother trying to explain.

Afterwards, cleaning out the house, we found notebooks full of poems in her hand.

-Bruce Jackson