Barry Temkin, Musician

Resident at Westbeth since 1988

My Friendship with Joseph Wolins, Part 2

Over the next ten years, I bought a tripod, remote shutter control, lighting and other photography equipment. I read every book I could find about photography and spent a lot of time with my wife Diane’s cousin, who is a professional photographer. I became a regular at B&H Photo. I spent half my weekends in Joe’s studio, and photographed all of his paintings, from the WPA era up through the ’90s. He introduced me to his friends, and I photographed their art as well, with both natural and artificial light.

My photos were far from perfect, and no one could have ever mistaken them for professional work. But Joe was happy, and he was very generous with his art. I still have three of his paintings hanging in my living room, which I count among my most prized possessions. One of his paintings is based on a photo I took of my pregnant wife dancing with the Torah under the chuppah in CBST in 1990. We are still CBST members to this day, and Diane sings in the community chorus.

Joe died in 1999 at the age of 84. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to get to know him, to laugh at his jokes, and to study decades of his art ranging among many subjects. Despite our age difference, he was my best friend in Westbeth. Up until the end, he had an unquenchable desire to live, to love, to paint, to show his work, to share with old friends and new. If you look on his Wikipedia page, you will see four photos that I took of his later work.

Painting by Joseph Wolins

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