An elapse of thirty years has done nothing to diminish the relevance of Janet Delaney’s photographs of 1980s San Francisco collected in Public Matters. They easily refute the idea that public protest voices the one-note grievance of an angry mob and showcase the messy magic of coming together in a common space, if not always on common ground. These scenes are both worthy of the world stage (then and now) and are a memento of Delaney’s own neighborhood, where pride, fear, hate, and uncertainty remain the heart of the matter. Street photography is a crowded club; the best of its acolytes, like Delaney, have left an enduring mark on how I see the world and what I expect of art. With Public Matters, I have stepped into the shoes of so many like and unlike myself, in a welcome jolt of recognition, regard, and re-invigoration.
Karen Jenkins earned a Master's degree in Art History, specializing in the History of Photography from the University of Arizona. She has held curatorial positions at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, AZ and the Demuth Museum in Lancaster, PA. Most recently she helped to debut a new arts project, Art in the Open Philadelphia, that challenges contemporary artists to re-imagine the tradition of creating works of art en plein air for the 21st century.