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‘Urbana 2’ on Display at Skyline Hills Library

July 20, 2017

Gettin’ Along by Major Morris

By Mario A. Cortez

Born in West end of Cincinnati at the end of the 1920s, Major Morris is an American photographer who captured some of America’s most turbulent years, but did so with an eye for the peace of day-to-day life.

Stills of life in the American Northeast by Morris will be on display at the Skyline Hills Library through September 15 in an exhibit titled “Urbana 2.”

The exhibit, held in conjunction with Morris’ late wife, Anne-Grethe Morris, features many of the artist’s most beloved pictures taken between 1960 and 1970.

The exhibit, made up of 40 black-and-white photographs, depicts subjects in various settings. Despite the subjects sharing the same disenfranchised and lower-class background as Morris, the images capture a sense of ease and nostalgia, often reminiscent of Norman Rockwell’s paintings.

Among his influences, Morris cites masters of the craft such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, W. Eugene Smith, Margaret Bourke-White, and Gordon Parks.

Morris, who was a resident of Escondido in his retirement years until his death in 2016, served in the United States Army during its segregated years and served in Italy during World War II. After his return to the United States, Morris worked several jobs and developed his photographic skills on his own while living in the Boston area.

Morris was a freelance contributor for the Boston Globe newspaper and Women’s Wear Daily magazine, mediums which he shared his photography with as a photojournalist and as an artist.

During his years as a resident of San Diego County, Morris became involved with the artist communities of Balboa Park’s Spanish Village, as well as artists in the Escondido area.

Morris published two photography books: “Nurture Their Dreams” and “Escape from Back Bottom,” which were dedicated to his grandmother.

In “Nurture Their Dreams” Morris writes in his artist’s statement that “I have always been drawn to capturing images reminiscent of what life was like for me as I groped my way through an underprivileged youthful existence.”

The Skyline Hills Library is located at 7900 Paradise Valley Rd. in San Diego.

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