Charles Mintz is a photographer living in Cleveland, OH. His work is “primarily documentary, built around ideas that are interesting and important to him.” His series, Lustron Stories, is about the legacy of houses produced by the Lustron Corporation between 1948 and 1950. The corporation itself is gone, but several houses they produced are still in use, and the series asks who lives in these houses still, and what do their lives look like?
Lustron Stories is a part of the Griffin’s Home Views exhibition. You can find his work on the walls of our Main gallery until December 5th. To get a feel of his artistic process, we asked Chuck some questions, and here is what he had to say:
1.Tell us how you first connected to the Griffin Museum.
Paula reviewed my portfolio at FotoFest in Houston in 2010. At that time I was showing “The Album Project.” I have followed the Griffin since and have participated in, at least, one of your juried shows.
2. How do you involve photography in your everyday life? Can you tell us about any images or artists that have caught your attention recently?
I work on my photography every day. OK, sometimes life intervenes but that is exception. I am constantly looking for, and attempting, stories to build into projects. I also look at images online, primarily on Facebook and Instagram but also in response to emails. My friend KA Letts opened an exhibit in Toledo last night. I always find her work thought provoking. Attached is “Primavera”, by K.A. Letts, 2021, acrylic on paper, 38″ x 50″.
3. Please tell us a little about your series Lustron Stories, and how it was conceived.
I have been working with the Ohio History Connection in Columbus for a while. I exhibited “Every Place I Have Ever Lived – the foreclosure crisis in 12 locations” there and also did one of the photo sessions for Precious Objects. I have attached images from both projects. They were planning a major group of exhibitions on the fifties that was to include a Lustron home as an exhibit. They give me a copy of their journal that included a major paper in Lustron. These houses were made between 1948 and 1950. I was born in 1948, they represent my lifetime. They were targeted at the stereotyped American family of the time. I was intrigued to see who really lived in them now. I worked on the project for six months, unsure of whether I was saying anything. Then I photographed “Richard”. Richard was retired boilermaker with the Santa Fe railroad. He was a collector. He wanted me to see his stuff but did not want me photographing it. As we looked at his collections he pulled out a Thomas Kinkade plate that he wanted me to have and then agreed to be photographed with it. When I saw that film, I knew I was going to stick with this project.
4. Has there been a Griffin Museum exhibition that has particularly engaged or moved you?
Hard to answer that question since I have not had the opportunity to visit.
5. What is a book, song or visual obsession you have at the moment?
I was kind of knocked out by the book “Southernmost” By Silas House. I have a very special relationship with my son and the book really spoke to me. I am constantly awash in great music, right now listening to Miles Davis playing “Surrey with the Fringe on Top”, a pretty dumb song played stunningly.
6. If you could be in a room with anyone to have a conversation, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Hard question. Jimmy Carter. How he found the strength to turn his post-presidency into a model of how we all should follow what might have been our crowning achievement. In his case, his portrayal as a failure when, in fact, he accomplished great things in his four years.