On the eve of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, I want to ask forgiveness for not acting quicker to help find repositories for the work of Al Winn, a photographer who died last May of HIV-related complications. In the months leading to Al's death, his friends and colleagues worked hard to find a home for his photographic archive. But, alas, museums move at a glacial speed and this kind of acquisition negotiation sometimes takes years to culminate in success.
I will quote directly from my email correspondence about Al's archive with his friend Sally Stein.
May 8, 2014
SS: The reason right now that sparked me to write is that photographer Al Winn, who was a former student of Allan's at CalArts, is terminally ill with HIV-related cancer, and he'd feel more secure if close friends like JH and by extension me (a mutual friend) helped suss out places that might serve as repository for his photographic work.
May 8, 2014
AE: What an interesting coincidence with Al Winn... I have been in touch with him recently and even included a work of his (AIDS mezuzah) in a book I just finished. Let me talk to my staff who have been involved in this discussion already and I'll get back to you (or directly to Al?) soon.
May 9, 2014
SS: Given Al's unstable health condition, I urge you to contact him directly asap; and if his condition declines precipitously so that you have trouble reaching him, I propose that you contact JH, copied above, as she is really in close touch with him and it was JH Al turned to about helping him deal with finding a future home for his work (likewise it is JH who enlisted my help in looking for receptive art & cultural institutions as repositories for his work).
May 19, 2014
SS: Greetings, Alla--sorry to bother you with this up/down-date but I learned this week form JH that Al is in the hospital. Probably this is impractical in terms of your schedule and museum protocols but if you wanted to move quickly on acquiring work--since I'm sure it will become more complicated once it is in his estate---I'm sure that Al would be gratified by this.
May 20, 2014
JH: Dear Alla: Al Winn passed away this afternoon. SP, Al's legal spouse is interested in carrying out Al's wishes about finding a home for his work. When things settle down I will discuss with SP. Much thanks for all your help and I am sure we will exchange emails again.