Joe Wilner continued

(continued from ...)

The Wilner trove is pretty much bottomless, in that so many of the items must fit somehow into the overall pattern of Joe's life. I've sorted through the pile of snapshots many times, and with every iteration I've found some other thread of subsets or people I can put into some sort of tentative relationship.


On the most recent pass I noticed two themes that recur: there are lots of snapshots of dogs and vehicles. Very few of the pictures are of any interest as compositions or obvious portals to something else, and many are out of focus, poorly exposed, crooked... Still, they do indicate where some of Joe's interests lay.

There are also quite a few very anonymous pictures of western landscapes, with nothing to hint at what made it worthwhile to get out the camera.

Mixed in with the many fuzzy and seemingly pointless pictures are a few real gems of naive (or is it just plain demotic?) virtue, like this one of somebody walking away from the camera:
Wilner enigma
On the back it says "Aug '44", but that's all that (seemingly) can be known about it. As a composition, it's really magnificent.

Another with the Cartier-Bresson or maybe Brassai touch:
a Brassai moment?
What is he doing, or showing? There must have been a reason to snap the shutter, but what was it?

I'm still trying to account for Joe and Rita's movements. This trio should tell us something:
Rita Wilner Rita Wilner Rita Wilner
Pretty clearly these are taken in the east (and not in California), after the birth of their daughter (the dangling foot in the middle picture), so maybe 1952 or so? But how would we figure out where? There are several "Lynn Cleaners" in Google, several of them in New Jersey...

There are other images that either are or might be Rita:

Rita Wilner and ?
at the Metropolitan Museum
Verlene, Esther and Rita
(on the back of the third: "June 1952 Lake Arrowhead Esther, Verlene and myself")
How about this one?
Rita Wilner?

Some are more puzzling:
Federal Correctional Institution
(the sign says "Federal Correctional Institution", and on the back is "Summer 1945", so it's clearly pre-Rita)


I'm guessing that this one is Joe's sister Helen, taken "Thanksgiving 1943":
Helen Wilner?

Sometimes all we have is a date (in this case, July '44):
friends of Joe

...and sometimes there's just no basis for guessing who where when, though we presume that each picture was kept because it had some significance:
some Wilner connection
some Wilner connection
friend of Joe
a snooze in the sun

Men seem to have stood around in suits a lot, back in the day:
a large friend of Joe
a friend of Joe in a bad suit
Joe Wilner and ?
The person on the left in that one is clearly Joe himself. The other person shows up in a lot of pictures. Here he is with Joe on the boat that shows up in a dozen snapshots:
Joe and the pipe-smoking man

10X170 10X170
The registration number 10X170 probably encodes some useful information, from the temporal plane of the late 1940s. Is it perhaps a Mexican vessel, from Baja California?

And do you suppose that this pair might be evidence of foul play, as in Antonioni's Blowup?
Antonioni's Blowup? Antonioni's Blowup?

This one looks like Rita, and I wonder if those might be her siblings? Who but a brother would presume to make horns behind Rita's back?
Rita with siblings?

Here are images of him from two points in time:
Rita's brother? Rita's brother?

Still more can be found here...