Letters: Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Bourgeois Triumph

To the editor: In Anthony Mariani’s review of my exhibition at the Fort Worth Public Library, he reveals a strange form of cultural and aesthetic amnesia (“Let Us Now Praise Famous Fort Worthians,” April 20, 2005). Confronted by my investigations, he sees only socio-economic reality. I can’t help wonder about the circumstances of his own life, which may cause him to be so obtuse. Is he merely a voice for bourgeois triumphalism, or is he really that unaware of the history of this city, formerly run by the Ku Klux Klan?
Mr. Mariani informed his readers that I equate Poverty with Virtue. Frankly, I was unaware that the work dealt with either. How does that assessment explain the large portion of the exhibition devoted to Prince Hall Masonry? Blues musicians may be less affluent than Mr. Mariani, but they are just working men and women, like most of us. That would also apply to Pentecostal preachers and their congregations.
I don’t know how Mr. Mariani grew up. I was raised in a city neighborhood in a working-class industrial city. Most of my photography deals with urban neighborhood life. I don’t think of my neighbors as “poor” or “virtuous.” They are merely the “Salt of the Earth,” working men and women attempting to find meaning and transcendence through their culture. I realize that may seem meaningless in modern, Republican Texas. However, I still choose to live in an urban neighborhood. I apologize for not fleeing the city. I like living close to my neighbors. I enjoy hearing their music and smelling their cooking. I need to see children playing in the street and in vacant lots. The juice of life is in the living.
The nasty tone of Mr. Mariani’s review reminds me of a teen-age girl who fails to experience the flavor of life, because everything with any heart seems icky to her. I realize that I can’t do much about this misinterpretation of my work. The show is down. Fortunately, however, the entire exhibition now belongs to the Fort Worth Public Library and the people of Fort Worth. Anyone will be able to view the photographs and related material in perpetuity. Perhaps I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that the history of Fort Worth will be somewhat more comprehensive and representative than without my contribution.
Peter Helms Feresten
Fort Worth
Editor’s note: Anthony was raised in a blue-collar section of Pittsburgh, Pa. He has lived below the poverty level most of his life — until he landed his posh gig at the Weekly.
Fellowship of the Inked
To the editor: I am a female, and I waited until I was 35 to get my first tattoo. I’m now 36 and have three tattoos (“Ink Slip,” April 27, 2005). I have one on each ankle and one on my lower back. My sister and I got on the subject of tattoos one day, and in talking, we realized we both had wanted a tattoo for years. We also realized the reason we had never got one was because no one would go with us. So we went together and got our first tattoos. And no, we did not get butterflies. Tell Mr. Farmer I wish him luck in seeking other employment if he chooses.

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Rhonda Allen, Livingston

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