I have always speculated (to myself) that Arkansas is one of the last undiscovered regions for the study of American folk art, vernacular art forms and music. Not the traditional South, not the traditional West...but a state rich with a fascinating history and fascinating people. Dust to Digital once again has hit the mark with a pair of beautiful releases which go a long way towards revealing the secrets of Arkansas. The Book? Making Pictures: Three for a Dime.
"In the 1930s, the Massengill family of rural Arkansas built three portable photography studios on old truck frames, attached each to the back of any car that would run, and started a mobile photo booth business that would last for a decade. Without formal training or help, the Massengill family invented and improvised ways to mimic the popular photo booths they had seen in drugstores and brought their business to the dirt roads and open fields they knew well. Making Pictures: Three for a Dime, featuring Massengill family prints and photo albums collected by the artist Maxine Payne, illuminates a sliver of the Depression-era South previously unseen by the public."
The Music? Corn Dodgers & Hoss Hair Pullers.
“For the traveling recording men of the late 1920s, Arkansas offered enticing pickings. The region was thronged with vigorous, idiosyncratic stringbands… Scarcely more than a decade, but a period, in music as in all American life, of galvanic change.” – Tony Russell, from the album’s liner notes
I can only say ESSENTIAL. Be you collector, library, museum? This pair of high-quality packages from Dust to Digital are required.