See this picture of Hugh Hefner from 1967 in his bedroom office?  It’s packed with action–and Playboy bunnies wearing clothes. Surprises and movement abound in the photographs of the legendary photographer Art Shay, who flew in from Chicago last weekend for the opening of this retrospective of his work at the beautiful new home of drkrm Gallery.

Art Shay under the mic at drkrm gallery by Andy Romanoff

Photo of Art Shay and Lisa Napoli at drkrm gallery by Andy Romanoff

What Shay has aimed his camera at over the last 70-odd years adds up to a waltz through 20th century history: from Marlon Brando, Judy Garland and Dolly Parton to (a naked) Simon de Beauvoir, Nikita Kruschev, Ray Kroc, and JFK.  There are 60 photographs in the lovely new gallery space on Chung King Road, and you’ll want to stop and gaze at each of them for a good long while.

At nearly 91, Shay is a living legend, as well as a living reminder of a time when someone with a camera could make a good living as an editorial and commercial photographer.


(By the way, drkrm actually has a real darkroom in the basement. When was the last time you saw one of those?)

There's a real, live darkroom in the basement of drkrm gallery.

The real, live darkroom in the basement of drkrm gallery.

Sleeping “with” an exhausted Elizabeth Taylor on a plane, his beloved late wife’s friendship with Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, and his work as a playwright—I talked with Mr. Shay for a good long while. A tiny excerpt of our conversation can be heard below.

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  • Andy

    Nice interview!

  • Chris

    fantastic piece!

  • Ellen Rudolph

    As a former photographer and photography student (@ Hampshire College), to hear 90-year-old Shay recount with such specificity his shutter speed, aperture, film type and camera, both awed and delighted. What a memory! And what fun to recall my solitary hours in the darkroom! Light years ago, it seems. I also totally sympathize with his feeling that he hasn't mastered the controls on a digital camera yet

    Thank you, Lisa! A terrific interview and great piece of radio that will get me off my butt and to Chinatown for a bit of photographic nourishment.

  • Anne

    What a photography legend.

  • Trenton

    Nikon D7100 SLR-Digitalkamera has any one used the camera? Thanks for the information.

  • Louella Vancott

    This seems like an exquisite strategy to welcome artists. I love this concept. And I also appreciate Tarte, that’s suitable throughout the corner from my workplace )