Daily Archives: 04/10/2004

Horace Bristol Exhibit

Today is the last day for a special exhibit of photos taken by Horace Bristol. Bristol was one of the original photographers for LIFE magazine, and is well known for his photographs of WWII. The exhibit, sponsored by the Guam Humanities Council, features a set of never before exhibited photos taken by Bristol on Guam in 1944. He took the photos just a month after the liberation of the island by US forces. The exhibit ran for a couple months, first at the Infiniti Gallery in Upper Tumon and then in an available store unit at GPO.

I waited until the exhibit moved to GPO, primarily because viewing at exhibit at a shopping mall seemed a bit more pleasant than going to a car dealership to look at pictures. The photos were excellent; prominent position was given to Bristol’s “Grapes of Wrath” photos, which served as the basis for Steinbeck’s classic novel. I found the Asian photos much more interesting, particularly Japan in the post-war years. And the war pictures provided some of the best photos, like this one below.

© Horace Bristol, PBY Blister Gunner, Rescue at Rabaul, 1944

This small reproduction doesn’t really do the photo justice. The man is stark naked and surrounded by the steel, plexiglass and weaponry of a warplane. On the actual print you can see he is drenched in sweat, which is probably why he is stripped naked in the belly of the beast. A look at the caption offers some explanation, Rabaul was in New Guinea so the heat was probably intense sitting in tropical sun of the blister gun.

Tucked in a back corner of the exhibit, behind the war pictures, was the prize of the collection: Bristol’s never before exhibited photos of Guam, taken in August of 1944, only a month after US forces recaptured the island from the Japanese. Bristol only spent a couple days on the island, but he managed to get photos of the ruins of Agaña shelled into oblivion by the US Navy prior to the invasion, kids playing baseball in Agat, families building emergency huts out of nipa palm fronds, and the people of Talofofo village getting their first beef since the Japanese occupation. The photos were found by Bristol’s son after his death in 1997, and this is their first exhibition.

Good Friday

The faithful erect a cross atop the mountainYesterday was Good Friday, and the usual crowd of penitents made the pilgrimage up Mount Jumullong Manglo. Every year the faithful climb the mountain, performing the stations of the cross along the way and erecting a giant cross at the summit. This year’s unusually large crowd was attributed to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. This year’s crowd was actually much larger than last year’s, a fact attributed not only to the movie’s influence but the fact that last year was the first time Good Friday was not a GovGuam holiday.