When all else fails (and let me tell you, the Netflix series Godless was a fail of epic proportions—I want my money back! Shame on them! Boo!), the place to turn is American Masters. The long-running PBS series (launched decades ago) introduces us to writers, artists, and musicians in such a mesmerizing way.
The episode that Hubbo and I watched, transfixed, is “Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey.” It streams right here, for free. (Be quick, though: I just noticed that free streaming ends today, ugh!)
It is beautiful. It is inspiring. It takes us along for the story of a young man, born in Arizona with roots in Mexico, who ends up capturing the work of some of the twentieth century’s celebrated artists.
After seeing even a couple of his images, you’ll see that Guerrero is himself an artist.
Frank Lloyd Wright gave him his first break, at the age of 22, photographing the construction of Taliesin West. Alexander Calder let him follow him around. Louise Nevelson shared some of her most dramatic work with him. Guerrero built a tremendous career doing work for every major magazine of the era, yet his modesty may be one of the most striking things about him.
Watch this documentary as a way to clear your palate and to celebrate someone who took up photography only because the painting classes were filled. And to imagine how it must have felt when he discovered what photography was. “The minute I made my first print,” he said, “I thought, This is mine. This is for me. This is a magic that I can control.”