We Walk in Beauty

Letter from Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

April 5th, 2004

Mr. Gary Auerbach
2730 N. Pantano Road
Tucson, Arizona 85715

Dear Gary,

It was a pleasure finally getting to meet you last week. And it was an even greater pleasure seeing your wonderful photography and hearing you talk about your work in general and about the specific photographs you gifted to the National Anthropological Archives.

I hardly need to say that the 44 platinum prints you gifted to the NAA are magnificent additions to our collections. I say this for reasons beyond the obvious artistry and mastery of craft they embody. In my view, it is significant that your work reflects lines of continuity both in style and in subject matter with a number of the 19th century photographers whose images are preserved in the NAA. As I mentioned when you were here, I have in mind some of the classic photographers of the West including Gardner, Reed, and Curtis. And it was for this reason that I immediately imagined an exhibit of your work with similar subjects photographed by some of these recognized masters. I have no doubt that, in years to come, the work of Gary Auerbach will provide historians with a distinctive 21st century benchmark of the style they pioneered.

I also want to say that, for me, each of your photographs reveals something of the encounter between subject and artist. It is obvious that you've taken time with those that you have photographed and that you have, in varying degrees, gain their trust. This is clear from the photographs themselves but became even more apparent during our conversation. In this regard, I encourage your book project as a way to open up the space behind your photographs and let your audiences know something more of these encounters, and in some cases, ongoing relationship with subjects. The words that accompany your individual prints are a most welcome beginning in this regard. For my part, I promise to be in touch with my contact at the Smithsonian Press about your work.

I close with heartfelt thanks for the wonderful works you have left in our care.


John P. Homiak, Ph.D.
Director, Anthropology Collections & Archives Program
Smithsonian Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746