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Take a deep breath, and enjoy. Spring is finally in the air, after a truly bone-chilling winter here in Memphis. And with spring — specifically with the month of April — comes yet another birthday for Memphis magazine. This publication has just turned thirty-eight, not exactly younger than springtime, but still very much in its prime, so to speak, at least in human terms.
Indeed, we’re celebrating this April by publishing the largest regular monthly issue of Memphis in our four-decade history. If print is dead (as many media pundits would have you believe), nobody has bothered to tell our thousands of long-time subscribers — or, equally important, our hundreds of regular advertisers, who have stood behind us for so long and so loyally. Thank you, all!
The focus of our celebration this particular April is another group of supporters that has been integral to our success, without ever getting a whole lot of attention, and certainly without getting much in the way of reward, at least in financial terms. From its very beginning, Memphis magazine has illustrated its editorial content with the work of some of this region’s finest photographers. Oftentimes, the only recognition they’ve gotten in our pages is a simple byline. But without their efforts, we probably wouldn’t still be here today.
So as Memphis approaches its forties, we’ve decided the time has come for us to pay homage to those Memphis photographers who have done so much to chronicle the life and times of the modern Mid-South, and so much to brighten the pages of this magazine. We’re calling this occasional series “The Mind’s Eye,” and in the months ahead, we’ll be featuring a wide variety of individuals whose work has been influential in shaping our vision of ourselves. As project director Richard Alley explains, in this series “we’ll turn the camera on the cameramen, capturing their portraits and seeing what develops. At the same time, we will be showcasing each photographer’s own remarkable work. Hopefully, that will speak for itself.”
This first installment of “The Mind’s Eye” features Willy Bearden, one of this community’s most important artists, and something of an unsung hero. Musician, raconteur, cultural historian, documentary and feature film producer, you name it, Willy has got a hand in every aspect of this city’s cultural life. And yes, he does know a thing or two about photography, too. Find out more about him on page 94.
As we launch “The Mind’s Eye” this month, we’re calling this our “Faces and Places Issue,” since people and a sense of place are the two things that best define what Memphis is as a city. We like to think that ours is a place like no other. And while, as people, we Memphians are far from perfect — way far, in fact — we are utterly and completely distinctive. Now that’s a real cause for celebration!