by Dan McClelland
Stopping at the Tupper Arts center to view its new photographic show featuring the works of well-known Tupper Lake photographer Kathleen Bigrow is like taking a step back in time.
In the gallery are over 200 images of Kathleen's works- Tupper Lake buildings, social activities, sports teams, wedding parties, major events, former residents, etc.
The show is called “Thru the Lens of Kathleen Bigrow,” 50 years of Adirondack Photo Journalism.
Each visitors to the Tupper Arts headquarters is given a 12-page hand-out which identifies many of the photographs on display. It also contains an order form where people can order reprints of Kathleen's photos to underwrite some of the cost of the show.
It also carries a brief profile of the photographer and the art center's work with her collection, published below.
“According to a 2008 Adirondack Life magazine article, in the early 1950’s a young Kathleen Bigrow, reporting for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, decided to buy her first camera when the photographer assigned to her showed up late to a press conference that she was covering. With $300 borrowed from a local bar owner (her loan request was turned down by commercial banks), she began a long career in photo journalism. Long before the age of digital photography, Kathleen’s husband, Bert, built a darkroom in the basement of their home so that she could develop her films in time for press deadlines.
“Over the years she honed her skills as an accomplished photographer. From comments of those that knew her she was a gritty no nonsense reporter who never said no to a story.
In his book Mostly Spruce and Hemlock, Louis Simmons states “no record of the newspaper people of the community would be a complete without a note on Tupper’s lone woman worker in the field, Mrs. Kathleen Bigrow, who has covered the Tupper area from some 25 years for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, and has represented the Syracuse Herald-American and Syracuse Post-Standard here for many years. An indefatigable reporter and photographer, she has earned a reputation for tireless, thorough day in day our coverage of the local news and has compiled an impressive file of photos of events and personalities in the community over the years.
In 1977 she joined the staff of the Tupper Lake Free Press and was its photographer for nearly 20 years.
Kathleen passed away in 2014 at the age of 91.
The Kathleen Bigrow Film Conservation Project
Tupper Arts has been given a valuable resource that has historical significance to the Adirondack region. The vast photographic collection of journalist Kathleen Bigrow has been generously donated to Tupper Arts by Jim Lanthier Jr. The collection includes thousands of film images taken over the 50 plus years of Kathleen’s career. Tupper Arts has begun an effort to catalog, digitize and archive these wonderful images. In addition to protecting the collection, Tupper Arts goal is to make the collection available to the community.
“The exhibition is the center's first attempt to share Kathleen’s unique vision and artistry.”
At the heart of the new display is photographer Jim Lanthier Jr., who spent hundreds of hours preparing for it...creating the photos from Kathleen's negatives, mounting them and sometimes framing them. The presentation was impressive.
Jim furnished the art center with modern computers, scanners and printers in past months to begin the preservation project.
Tupper Arts volunteer Ed Donnelly is working with Mr. Lanthier in the massive cataloguing process ahead.
The show runs through April 27 and admission is free.