Remembering Accomplished Artists
Fourteen years ago, a then younger African American photographer came to The Art Quarterly and GALLERY M’s attention. Then about 70 years young, Ted Williams, appeared to have seen – and by many accounts – taken the photographs of legends yet to come. Jazz greats, performers and leaders of the day as well as story features for major magazines. His years prior to our meeting were shared with legends like Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Count Bassie, Tony Bennett and Lena Horn, and perhaps a still timely, Sarah Vaughan.
Before Sarah’s first national performance in 1949, Williams had found his way into the backstage area. When Ted shared the story it was truly impressive – but today it is even more so. Upon access, he found Sarah who was not supposedly camera friendly. She insisted on absolutely no photographs. Ted, always with a young, cheerful demeanor, was 24 years old at the time. He convinced Vaughan to agree because he stated he was shooting for his college newspaper. While elegant and stunning, the photograph shown here as a signed, limited edition photograph, had her own photographs scattered throughout the dressing room. The images of her family accompanied that of the great Negro icons for both Vaughan and Williams – Roy Campanella, Satchell Paige and Jackie Robinson. Ted Williams caught Vaughan not head on – as most would have attempted – but through the opposite end of the mirror. While her image is clear – her presence is just slightly detectable from the bottom left corner of the frame.
Years later, Ted and Sarah ran into each other. She asked how the college paper liked the photograph. He smiled as only he could and coolly stated – I was never with the college paper. They laughed together. Ted’s perseverance for the shot, in his long journey called life, enabled many to remember moments as only a photographer can. Ted Williams – The Photographer passed away a week ago. His photographs and his spouse and wife remain his beacon of an accomplished and collected artist. For burial, donations or licensing information please contact GALLERY M.