Ms. Booth's Garden


Ms. Booth's Garden


Ms. Booth is the photographer's grandmother. Jack Kotz is an amazed outsider from Washington, D. C., and Santa Fe, N. M., who goes South to visit her.

Kotz shows Ms. Booth in her dignified frailty as she moves through daily rituals in her rustic Mississippi town. Indeed, her "garden" is the mellowing community itself, her lifelong, intimate friend.

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These exceptional, poignant photographs of Ms. Booth in her homey, local world capture an ever-constant irony--that although nature and mortals age together, nature endures as mortals fade. Yet in her state of advancing age she presides with majesty and grace among the things and the people she knows.

"What most interested me over time was simply my grandmother's day-to-day life," Kotz says. "I was constantly intrigued by the seemingly simple way she lived and the reverence with which she regarded the simplest of things and most commonplace of experiences." His observing eye has told him that "people's spirits are inextricable from the land they inhabit."

During a period of twenty years Kotz's camera has found a natural splendor in the community's even, ticking pace as Ms. Booth accommodates her life to its rhythms. He shows her in trips to the bank, to the church, and to the local shops. He shows too the cozy home place she has created. These are serene, loving images, mainly of life in the exuberant garden. Ms. Booth affords them a humanizing presence.

In praise of this collection Bailey White, the author and NPR commentator, says, "These photographs give so much that you have the feeling that if you just look hard enough you will be able to understand it all--the complexities of old, old friendships, the sweep of change, and the touching adjustments resourceful people make to accommodate it, the little eruptions of art that make up an enduring community."

Jack Kotz has been a photographer for twenty years. His work has appeared in AmericanaArchitectural DigestSmithsonianTimeSu Casa, and Santa Fean. He lives in Santa Fe, N. M.