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Detroit 1968: Photographs by Enrico Natali on view in exhibition at Joseph Bellows Gallery
Typesetter at work, Detroit, 1968.
LA JOLLA, CA.- As the fall of Detroit began, as her middle class American Dreamers began moving to greener pastures, and while the Motor City’s status as one of the shining stars of the industrial revolution began to fade, Detroit became a locus for the racial conflict and political upheaval that swept the country during the late 1960s. Throughout this pivotal moment, Enrico Natali was present, empathically documenting Detroit, her people and their environments, and their lives and conditions in his compelling photographs.

Forty-one years later, Natali’s photographs of Detroit still resonate with hope and emotion, and indeed, have taken on an added pathos. These pictures capture the relative calm before the storm: people attending art exhibitions, sporting events, a high school prom; families posing together for portraits; secretaries smoking their afternoon cigarettes; children, parents and grandparents, workers of every stripe—machinists, waitresses, beauticians—plying their trades with what might be described in retrospect as innocence. The spirits of these nameless faces, young and old, are the ghosts that haunt what is now—very literally—this bankrupt metropolis.

Enrico Natali was born in 1933, in Utica, New York. During the 1960s he lived and photographed in various American cities, including New York, New Orleans, Chicago, and Detroit. At the end of that decade he ceased work as a photographer and began a meditation practice that became his primary focus, as he built a home and raised his family in California’s Los Padres National Forest. In 1990 Natali and his wife Nadia founded the Blue Heron Center for Integral Studies, a Zen meditation center in Ojai, California.

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Detroit 1968: Photographs by Enrico Natali on view in exhibition at Joseph Bellows Gallery

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