The Secret Soul of an American Downtown
Publication Date: May 19, 1995
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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Oakland Rhapsody units the talents of Richard Nagler, an award-winning photographer, and Ishmael Reed, a respected American novelist, essayist, and poet. Through photography and prose, they focus on Downtown Oakland and create a compelling visual and literary portrait of a major American city as it nears the turn of the century.
Downtown Oakland is special. Within a walk of just a few blocks, the visitor can experience the architecture and feel of California in 1895, or 1935, or 1995. Many nationalities have come to call the city home and have contributed to its rich and varied cultural life. All the problems and promise of the American inner city are on view.
Through Nagler's images and Reed's words, Oakland, one of the most misunderstood and unappreciated cities in America, emerges as a beautiful and complex subject, a city of charm and challenge, where the history and the future of the state come face-to-face in multicultural harmony.
Richard Nagler is a magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in the fields of philosophy and politics. After studying painting, he began to photograph in the early 1970s. His work has been widely exhibited in museum and gallery shows throughout the United States and Europe and his photographs are included in many major public and private collections.
Nagler has been photographing Downtown Oakland for twenty years. Through his lens, Oakland is revealed as a treasure trove of haunting and powerful photographic images. His photography strikes a resonant chord with Ishmael Reed's words in the Introduction: “Oakland is probably the best-kept secret in the United States."
Ishmael Reed is one of America's leading novelists, essayists, and poets. He has been nominated for the National Book Award in both fiction and poetry. He is a past winner of the Lewis Michaux Award. He has taught at Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, and for twenty years he has been a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley. Reed is widely acknowledged to be one of the leading voices chronicling life in America's inner cities and has gained an international reputation as one of the most original talents in American fiction. He has lived in Oakland, California since 1967.
"The 'there, there' is beautifully photographed and documented for those who love Oakland and for those who wish to learn its secrets."
-Jerry Brown, former Governor of California and mayor of Oakland
"For the past twenty years, Richard Nagler has wandered the streets of Oakland recording on film its people, its architecture, its changes. His sensitive photographs capture in split-second images the essence of Oakland. The result is a compelling portrait of a neighborhood, rich in drama, sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant - what Chekov called 'a slice of life.'"
- L. Thomas Frye, Chief Curator of History at the Oakland Museum
"By concentrating on its downtown, Richard Nagler has captured the beauty, the despair, and the contradictions of Oakland...With his portraits of alienated individuals, actors in a city undergoing transition, he may well be the Edward Hopper of the camera."
- Ishmael Reed, from the Introduction