Very few pictures wear name tags. Naming is the province of the caption, or of an oral tradition, sometimes passed on from parents to children, but more often eluding the good intentions of commitment to writing. The boxes of anonymous photographs in most home closets are silent testimony to this nominative failure. Worse yet, consider the images of family and friends banished, orphaned, at estate sales and flea markets, touching evidence of the painfully anonymous tradition of the portrait.
Judy Barie, director of the galleries of the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution, has opened an image shelter for the nameless at Strohl Art Center, in which she offers 31 unnamed images to patrons ready to provide foster parenting and a new home for only partially identified images.
Yes, there are a few pictures known by first names in the shelter — Allen, Joe, Steve, Trudy, Joe, and Virginia among them. Otherwise, we must be content with Two Headed Man, Small Female Head, Young Bride, and Teens on the Beach.