By Meda Kessler
Photos by Kate Simon
For portrait photographer Kate Simon, it’s all about the eyes. While she has shot her share of candids, celebrities caught in a moment — the Sex Pistols fighting onstage, Bob Marley in concert, Joe Strummer of The Clash lying on two chairs backstage after a show — it’s the intimate images of people looking directly into the camera that are the most mesmerizing.
The New York native got her start thanks to her father, a surgeon who introduced her to photography early on. She attended school in Washington D.C. and Paris, then took a job in London when she realized she needed to work as a photographer to become one. She helmed the front desk at a gallery, made connections and took a lot of photographs before getting a job at a music weekly. She shot David Bowie in the studio and The Clash for their debut album in 1977. Simon also was friends and neighbors with many musicians, including Deborah Harry and Patti Smith, both subjects of her photography. She had remarkable access to Marley up until his death in 1981 and eventually published a book on the reggae superstar.
While she photographed mainly musicians, by the mid-’80s, she added writers and painters to her subject list, William S. Burroughs and Andy Warhol among them.
You’ll get to see Simon’s work in person in “Chaos and Cosmos,” a large-scale solo exhibition at Fort Works Art opening May 10. Simon will take over both floors of the gallery with works that span more than 30 years. Gallery owner and curator Lauren Childs made the connection with Simon via developer Eddie Vanston, co-owner of Shipping & Receiving.
“Being able to bring the work of Kate Simon to Fort Worth for her first major retrospective exhibition demonstrates what is and has been possible since we opened in Fort Worth. This gallery has produced magic and more dreams realized than I could have ever imagined upon inception,” says Childs. “Bringing an internationally acclaimed photographer with Simon’s career trajectory from New York City to our gallery is truly exhilarating.”